Except in the case of surgical removal of the ovaries, menopause takes place at the natural end of a woman’s reproductive life. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been a way of easing the symptoms of this normal (if not occasionally aggravating) change for many years, but isn’t without it’s risks. HRT is known to increase the risk of heart disease and breast cancer among many women. Because of this, more and more women and their healthcare providers are looking for alternative treatments to traditional hormone replacement therapy.
Menopause brings with it some side effects that while harmless, are less than enjoyable. They include hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido. Making some easy lifestyle changes and/or adding some herbal supplements to your diet can remedy each of these symptoms safely, effectively and naturally.
One of the best and most effective ways to curb menopause symptoms along with other signs of aging such as bone loss to make sure the you are eating a very healthy diet. This means reducing or completely cutting out caffeine and sugar because they limit your body’s ability to keep your immune system and your bones strong and healthy and they also adversely affect your liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen.
Along with limiting caffeine and sugar, it’s important to eat a varied diet that is heavy on whole grains, fruits and vegetables and light on saturated fats, This is good for overall health and will help with the inevitable weight gain that takes place during mid life.
Here are natural ways to deal with other symptoms of menopause:
- Hot Flashes – Black cohosh is often recommended for relieving hot flashes. Avoidance of too much caffeine or alcohol can also help. Making sure you are getting enough vitamins E, C and B complex will help too, as will consuming soy in it’s many forms. You can also find special pillows that help keep you cool at night (for those night sweats) – these are marketed as the Chillow,
- Moodiness – St. John’s Wort, passionflower and black cohosh can help with moodiness, as can amping up your carb intake (be careful with that). Try to cut out caffeine and sugar if possible. Make sure you are getting at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week. This will help alleviate moodiness and add to your overall health.
- Vaginal Dryness – Use vitamin E. You can actually use a vitamin E capsule as a suppository. Baby oil and lubricants such as KY Jelly can block pores and are not desirable. Replens is a lubricant on the market that does not block pores and can be used well in advance of intercourse so you don’t have to have the bottle right next to the bed.
- Loss of Libido – Women experience a diminished sex drive when estrogen starts to wane. There are ways to get that feeling back, though. Phytoestrogens can play a very important role in regaining libido. They can be found in soy, grains, oats, tempeh, almonds, fruits and vegetables and cashews. Herbs such as wild yam and black cohosh can also help. In fact, phytoestrogens help with all menopause symptoms. Also, spend time taking care of your physical appearance and appreciating your still sexy (even if it’s sexy in a different way) body. Maturity brings an awareness that if embraced, will help you get past the changes your body is going through and help you to feel desirable.
If you are at the brink of menopause or well into the process, you may be feeling the effects of the natural changes that your body is experiencing. While these may be difficult, they can usually be managed with healthy diet, exercise and supplements. HRT in most cases is not necessary.