Menopause: Remedies and Treatments
Like most things in life, menopause does not have a “miracle” treatment that can erase all of its symptoms. But this hasn’t stopped both conventional medicine and holistic medicine from finding a range of solutions to help women navigate the menopausal years easier, healthier, and more comfortably.
Let’s explore the range of treatments, both medical and natural, that are available to women to manage their menopause symptoms.
Menopause Symptoms – What’s Normal?
These changes and transitions are not meant to be a burden on women, but longevity-promoting support. The monthly fertility cycle (maturing an egg, building a uterine lining, and menstruating) takes a toll on the body over time. As we age out of our reproductive years, menopause helps to stop this routine to save our energy and biological resources.
The main cause of menopausal symptoms is hormonal imbalances. Just as hormone fluctuations cause some inconvenient (but expected) changes during puberty, hormones cause body changes during menopause as well. It is natural to notice changes in your figure, mood, sleep schedule, and even skin texture. Many women also experience a decreased libido or increased vaginal dryness.
The following symptoms, when mild, are normal and often subside after the body fully transitions into post-menopause:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes or chills
- Night sweats
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood changes
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Changes in breasts
Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, Rage – Oh, My!
When considering your perimenopausal symptoms, remember that your body is doing the best job it can to adapt to the new changes.
While many symptoms are natural and normal, extreme or overwhelming symptoms leave some women suffering. Severe hot flashes and night sweats can cause extreme distress for women and can even lead to bouts of insomnia, anxiety, or nausea.
So, why do some women have a gentle transition through menopause, but others are left miserable? Doctors are still learning about why we have varying experiences, but holistic medical traditions suggest it may have something to do with our unique constitutions, lifestyle, and states of balance.
Let’s look at some of the more troublesome effects of menopause and how we can find natural, healthy solutions.
Traditional Treatment for Menopause Symptoms
Depending on your own experience with menopause symptoms, you may seek out advice or help from your primary doctor or gynecologist. These are the most common medical therapies that women use for managing their menopause symptoms.
Menopause symptoms are often due to the natural drop in estrogen and progesterone. Hormone replacement therapy can help the body ease into a new balance more gradually.
Vaginal Estrogen (Hormone Creams)
For women with extreme vaginal dryness, estrogen creams, tablets, or rings can be used directly on the vaginal tissues. Be wary, Estrogen vaginal rings can have side effects.
Antidepressants (SSRIs), anti-seizure medications, and high blood pressure medications can be used to reduce hot flashes in women who can’t use estrogen therapy. To prevent bone loss and osteoporosis during menopause, medications and Vitamin D supplements are sometimes recommended to protect bone health and strength.
Natural Remedies for Menopause Symptoms
In addition to the conventional ways that modern medicine treats menopause symptoms, there are many natural approaches women can take to enhance their health and reduce discomfort during menopause. Many of the following therapies can be used either alone or in conjunction with conventional treatments. Speak with your doctor about how you can safely and effectively manage your menopause symptoms naturally.
Therapies like acupuncture and massage have been used to support women through the entire menopause transition. Studies show that acupuncture can reduce hot flashes, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms, while massage effectively relieves stress and enhances circulation and blood flow throughout the body.
Supplements and Herbs for Menopause
Managing menopause can be made easier with support from key supplements, vitamins, and herbs.
Herbs for menopause can be taken as a pill, capsule, powder, or tea.
Black Cohosh and Red Clover: Known to reduce hot flashes and sweating.
Dong Quai: A traditional Chinese medical herb that supports hormonal balance.
Evening Primrose Oil: Has a cooling effect on the body and keeps estrogen in check.
Maca: Boosts energy and mood while stimulating the libido.
Menopause is a particularly important time to pay attention to your vitamins and minerals to manage symptoms and protect against osteoporosis.
Vitamin A: necessary for bone health and can prevent bone fractures
Vitamin B12: fights fatigue, weakness, and depression; absorption decreases with age
Vitamin B6: helps to energize and fight mood swings
Vitamin D: necessary for strong and healthy bones
Vitamin E: a strong antioxidant that fights aging, depression, and weight gain
Probiotics help to support the gut microbiota – tiny bacteria and other organisms that make up our digestive, immune, and neurological function. Studies have shown that using probiotics in menopause can help to reduce symptoms or manage side effects from hormone therapy.
A Whole-Body Approach to the Menopause Years and Beyond
Menopause is a total-body transition that requires a whole-body approach. Natural therapies offer women in menopause amazing results and tools for staying well long into the future. While it is easy to focus on the seemingly separate symptoms, the real path to wellness lies in supporting the entire woman: body, mind, and soul.