Women going through the stages of menopause have a slow decrease in estrogen levels. Eventually estrogen production stops all together. Taking phytoestrogens, or plant-sourced estrogen-like replacements, can mimic the estrogen hormone lost during this stage of life. This may ease the discomforts of menopause like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Plant estrogens include isoflavones, found in soybeans and soy products like tofu, and soymilk. These particular plant estrogens should be taken with care as too much isoflavones have been shown to cause cancer. Truth is, doctors don’t know if phytoestrogens work like human estrogen, which may cause problems after menopause.
Nutritional supplements and herbs taken for menopausal symptoms have a long history in women’s folk remedies. Here are a few:
- Black Cohosh is useful, in short periods of six months or less, for hot flashes and vaginal dryness. The health safety is not known when taking black cohosh for longer than six months, but side effects are rare. Some women complain of increased anxiety when taking this supplement.
- Evening Primrose Oil is another treatment for hot flashes and mastodynia (breast pain). It can interact with your prescription medicines, so check with your pharmacist or primary medical doctor before taking this botanical.
- Dong Quai is a Chinese medicinal herb taken for thousands of years for hot flashes and night sweats. You may be able to purchase it from your local Chinese medicine practitioner (think acupuncturist).
Other supplements and botanicals to check out are fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids, red clover tea, valerian root, ginkgo biloba, sage, and ginseng, among others. Their effectiveness varies with each person, so try them and see which ones help you. Try eating more foods with natural calcium, such as broccoli, to offset the normal bone loss taking place. Do weight bearing exercises to strengthen bones and tone muscles that may be weakening. Work to preserve what you have to maintain your lifestyle.
During perimenopause and menopause, your body is going through a natural stage of aging. You don’t have a disease or disability and can go thru it own your own for the most part. Use these aids for easing the symptoms; you can’t stop them from happening. You need to see menopause for what it is, the ending of your fertility. It is something to wrap your mind around and accept. Some will embrace it and others may need help from their family and friends.
Emotional upheaval is to be expected. Talking to your doctor or other professionals may help. Eating healthy, getting enough exercise and being in nature may help with depression or mood swings. You can take natural sleep enhancers like melatonin or valerian tea, for instance. During the day, you can sip chamomile tea to stay relaxed.
The stages of menopause can be trying and seem to last forever, but they do end. You can sail through knowing there is lots of life left to live.