When a woman reaches menopause, (also known as “going through the change of life”) the ovaries begin producing less estrogen. Menstrual periods become increasingly irregular, then stop entirely. This generally occurs in women between the ages of forty five and fifty five.
It is not uncommon to experience irregular periods for 5 to 7 years before your cycle stops completely. After going one full year without menstrual periods a women is considered to have passed through menopause.
Menopause symptoms occur in response to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body. Symptoms may include anxiety, depression, dizziness, dry skin, hair loss, hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, low libido, mood swings, nausea, night sweats and vaginal dryness. The lack of estrogen may have other consequences too; such as, increased risk for heart disease and osteoporosis.
Hot flashes occur when the estrogen levels drop and typically begin in the chest and spreads to the neck, face and arms. They can be accompanied by sweating, heart palpitations and maybe followed by chills.
If menstruation stops suddenly, either naturally or following the surgical removal of the ovaries, the discomforts of menopause can be especially severe. What ever the cause, supplements and natural remedies can be very useful in treating the symptoms of menopause.
Menopause is not a medical condition requiring drugs, but if mental or physical symptoms are severe, you should consult a physician. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be prescribed. Beware of the possible negative side effects; such as, elevated blood pressure, migraine headaches, gallstones, breast cancer or cancer of the uterus and more.
Many women prefer to avoid the potential risks of HRT and utilize self-help techniques to control menopause. For some women, natural estrogen is more successful than HRT.
Supplements and natural remedies
Black cohosh contains key ingredients that act on the hypothalamus and thermoregulatory center of the brain to simulate the effects of estrogen. It effectively treats loss of libido, hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness and other menopausal symptoms. Improvements are generally seen in 4 to 8 weeks. Commercial products are available; follow packaging directions.
Chaste berry (for irregular periods) helps balance estrogen and progesterone by affecting the part of the brain that controls the release of these two hormones. Take 500 to 1,000 milligrams daily. Commercially prepared tinctures are available; follow packaging directions.
Vitamin E helps eliminate hot flashes. Take 400 IU to 600 IU daily. Do not expect immediate results, it takes 2 to 4 weeks to feel the effects.
Selenium amplifies the action of vitamin E and is linked to normal hormone balance. Take 100 to 200 micrograms daily.
Soy and foods rich in soy protein contain phytoestrogens, or molecules very similar to estrogen and progesterone. A menopausal women can retain the benefits she had previously received from her body’s natural estrogen by eating lots of soy protein. Try to consume 25 grams of soy daily. Powered soy supplements are available; follow packaging directions.
Calcium helps relieve irritability and nervousness. Additionally, it helps guard against osteoporosis, which begins at menopause. Take 1,500 milligrams daily in divided doses.
Fenugreek contains diosgenin, a compound similar to the hormone estrogen. It is often used in the treatment of depression associated with menopause and hot flashes. It may also reduce cholesterol levels. Fenugreek tea and commercial products are available; follow packaging directions.
Evening primrose oil helps in the production of estrogen and relieves hot flashes. Take 500 milligrams twice a day.
Dong quai may offer steady, lasting relief for women who have difficult periods and who are battling through menopause. It also appears to help women feel more energetic. Commercial products are available; follow packaging directions.
Other herbs that either provide natural estrogen or stimulate the body’s production of estrogenic hormones include alfalfa, blessed thistle, blue cohosh, cramp bark, damiana, gotu kola, licorice root, red raspberry leaf, sarsaparilla, unicorn root and yarrow.