Menopause is something we will all experience at some point and some of us will be dealing with one or more of the following symptoms: hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability and tiredness.
Menopause comes at different times depending on the person but for most women it begins in their late 40s or early 50s and lasts for a few years.
Today we are going to review some natural options because it's no secret that estrogen therapy for menopause helps with symptoms but increases health risk. If you don't know about the risks of estrogen therapy, here is a quick review: Studies found that estrogen alone causes an increased risk of strokes, bloodclots and more. One study done on 16,000 women (8,000 receiving a placebo) found that estrogen therapy combined with the hormone progestin, increased the risk of cancer (breast cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer) significantly. It also increased the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, pulmonary embolism (PE), hip fracture, and more.
This increase of risk has turned many women toward the direction of natural supplements and remedies for relief, especially for hot flashes! Note: 80% of women experience hot flashes but some of you will actually have cold flashes. They are caused by the same thing, a drop in estrogen. This effects the hypothalamus part of your brain that is responsible for regulating your body temperature and let's just say, it overreacts.
1) Eat more foods that are high in Phytoestrogens
Hot flashes are the worst and sometimes they can set in motion a cold flash.
Did you know that in many Asian countries like Japan, menopausal women rarely experience hot flashes? It's believed this is because they eat phytoestrogen foods which are naturally occurring plant compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen. Example of these foods are soybeans and soy products like tofu, tempeh, beans, sesame seeds, flaxseeds and linseeds.
One small randomized study supported these findings and found it reduced cholesterol levels, blood pressure and hot flashes.
Studies have found that natural sources of phytoestogents work better and are safer than processed foods with added soy protein.
2) Weight management
Weight is extremely difficult to maintain through life, it's always fluctuating and when you go through menopause, it can be extremely difficult to not gain extra weight due to a combination of hormone changes, lifestyle, genetics and aging.
However that extra weight may affect your menopause symptoms. One large study found postmenopausal women with extra weight who lost at least 10 Ibs found more relief from hot flashes and women with larger weight loss (>22 lbs) were related to the elimination of moderate/severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS, i.e., hot flashes or night sweats) in postmenopausal women.
3) Avoid certain foods
Do you keep a diary for your health? If you don't, you might want to start. If you can take the time to write down a list of what you've eaten for the day, your symptoms, exercise and hours slept you can better access particular food that might be causing hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
Some known agitators include sugary or spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. However, keeping your own personal diary will help you figure out if one in particular is affecting you more or less.
If you read all my blogs you must think I'm a broken record with all these exercise talks but it's not me! Studies show how much exercise works for keeping you healthy. However in this situation, studies done on exercise to stop hot flashes and night sweats were found not helpful! As in they don't believe exercise alone actually helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats. That is of course, unless exercise helps you lose weight and then it would help according to the studies mentioned in #2 under weight management.
Though it may not help eliminate hot flashes, exercise does help other symptoms of menopause like improved energy, healthier bones and joints, stress relief and better sleep. One study also showed it reduced the risk of breast cancer. Not to mention regular exercise is also associated with protecting against high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease... to name a few!
5) 8-12 glasses of water a day!
Funny, this suggestion was mentioned in our 20 super easy health tips blog! The fact is, drinking water is good for everyones health. It also just so happens that a decrease in estrogen during menopause can cause dryness. Additional water can not only help with dryness but it can reduce bloating (which often occurs with hormonal changes) and it can help prevent weight gain as water often makes you feel full. In one study, it was found that drinking 17oz of water at least 30 minutes before a meal "represented an approximate 13% reduction" in calories. This may also help with hot flashes if it helps you maintain a healthy weight.
6) Eat three meals a day
It's always important to eat right but sometimes weight loss trends get us skipping meals and dieting in a way that is counter productive. It turns out that certain menopause symptoms can be made worse from irregular eating. One study also found that skipping meals is associated with 4.3% less weight loss. This same study also found that eating out for lunch at least once a week caused 2.5% less weight loss. What did work was consuming meals at regular intervals and having home-prepared meals.
7) What about supplements?
Of course we'd all like something easy that will solve all our problems without the work but there is no supplement that will do all the work for you. Lifestyle changes paired with natural supplements might help reduce symptoms more than using a supplement alone.
Evidence behind red clover/black cohosh and evening primrose oil varies on effectiveness. Some studies show promise but are done on small groups of less than 100 people verses the studies we reviewed earlier that involve over 15,000 people over the course of many years. In one small study of black cohosh a noticeable difference was mentioned for fixing hot flashes, however in a later study involving 2000 people there was "no significant difference between black cohosh and placebo in the frequency of hot flushes."
Still these plants have been used through history and they may be worth a try though long term effects are unknown.
Keeping up with your health through supplements can help balance your body. You may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency that is inadvertently causing more of your menopausal symptoms. Trying finding natural remedies like S'moo that can give you the right vitamins and minerals to support your health. Always talk to your doctor about your menopausal symptoms and relief.
Not sure you know enough about menopause?
Maybe you aren't dealing with these symptoms yet but would like to know when to expect them? Let's review basic information about terminology surrounding menopause and estrogen.
How do you know you’ve hit the “menopause” age?
Menopause is signaled by 12 months since last menstruation. The actual age is different for every woman and what causes it is widely unknown. However, a recent study linked sexual frequency during the pre- and peri-menopause actually decreased the likely hood of the onset of menopause.
So what is pre- and peri- menopause?
Let’s start with the easy one! Pre-menopause! Pre-menopause and perimenopause are very different! Pre-menopause is when you’re not having any symptoms of menopause. This means you’re still having your periods, whether they are regular or irregular. You’ll still be considered to be in your reproductive years and nothing noticeable will change in your body.
Which is very different than Perimenopause which is the word most often used for your menopause transition. This transition normally begins several years before menopause (8-10 years before) and when this happens your ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. This normally starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier. This phase (Perimenopause) lasts up until menopause. During this time, you’ll actually start experiencing some menopause symptoms. These might include changes in your mensural cycle, hot flashes, mood swings and trouble sleeping.
Wait... I'm having some of the Perimenopause symptoms! If you’re experiencing irregular periods, mood swings and trouble sleeping it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going through Perimenopause, even hot flashes may come early. If you’ve been following our blogs, you’ll know a lot of these symptoms can be caused from Stress, PCOS, Diet and more! The more you know about your body, the better you can evaluate what you’re actually going through.
Some other symptoms you may experience in perimenopause and menopause are forgetfulness, muscle aches, urinary tract infections, fertility issues, loss of sex drive, weight gain… a bunch of other things >>> before you start saying “Yes that’s me” just remember there are a lot of things that can be happening with your body to create these same symptoms so please make sure you’re eating right and working at balancing your hormones to see if you can eliminate these symptoms in other ways.
Which brings us to Menopause. We talked a little about when Menopause is "officially menopause" but what causes it all to happen? It all comes down to your ovaries producing so little estrogen that eggs are no longer released.
Things *besides less sex - according to that recent study* that may make you enter menopause earlier than normal:
- Previous cancer treatments
- A family history of early menopause
- Having had a hysterectomy (operation to remove a woman's uterus) or oophorectomy (surgical removal of an ovary or ovaries)
How do we deal with Menopause? Hopefully from reading the first half of this blog, you know we can’t we just take estrogen and fix this. Avoid these menopause symptoms comes down to trial and error, keeping a health journal and trying different suggestions. Nothing is ever easy. Hormone Therapy is an option for women experiencing Menopause and it does relieve symptoms but it also has risks, such as blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer. Know your facts before making choices that may have lasting effects on. your future.
Menopause is a natural part of life that we will all deal with at some point. Though it may be difficult, having the right diet, exercise and discipline (like keeping a journal) can help prevent menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
This content is strictly the opinion of S'moo and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither S'moo nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.