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)
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.
Lifestyle Support for Women in Perimenopause, Menopause, and Post-Menopause
Our lifestyle and daily habits can have a huge impact on our quality of life and our ability to stay healthy. For women going through menopause, balancing all the plates of adult life and managing stress, tending to our physical and mental health can feel like an epic feat.
Thankfully, there are many ways to improve your health and reduce your menopause symptoms with some simple and manageable lifestyle changes.
Best Diet During Menopause: What to Eat
One of the most transformative ways to improve your core health is by nourishing your body. Food can be incredibly medicinal or it can sabotage your health.
For women experiencing severe hormone imbalances during menopause, focus on a whole foods diet that avoids fast food, processed sugar, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, additives, chemicals, and empty carbohydrates. Not only will this help you reduce your symptoms, you are likely to notice healthy weight loss, improved energy, more stable moods, and a better sex life.
Load up your diet with colorful, vibrant, nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits. These are packed with antioxidants that relieve inflammation and stress, hydrate your tissues, and slow the effects of ts of aging.
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale): contain indole-3-carbinol to support estrogen levels
Antioxidants (blueberries, green tea): boost immune system and reduce inflammation
Beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds: high fiber, regulate hormones and manage weight
Olive oil, avocado, nuts, salmon: age-fighting omega-3 fatty acids and improve mood
Water: hydration is imperative during menopause as many women lose fluids from sweating
Exercise: How to Stay Active During Menopause
Movement is crucial for overall health. While exercise is a typical recommendation for those who are looking to lose weight or prevent osteoporosis, the benefits of staying active have a far wider reach.
Exercise helps to relieve stress and mental tension, just as it helps to improve our body’s physical form. Women who suffer anxiety, depression, brain fog, irritability, and anger during menopause can find great relief in a regular exercise routine.
Yoga: Yoga builds both physical and mental strength, flexibility, and mindfulness
Walking: maintains circulation and lymphatic flow while relieving stress and tension
Stretching: a twice-daily stretch (in the morning and evening) maintains good posture
Weight-bearing exercises: help build bone strength and prevent fractures
Menopause and Mental Health: Finding Joy in Menopause
Each era of life has its obstacles, but many women find menopause to be particularly challenging. To take control of your emotions and support your mental health, consider forming some new habits:
Creativity: Menopause is a great time to dig up old forgotten creative hobbies. Self-expression is a helpful tool in managing life’s changes and embracing the present moment. A particularly helpful habit is journaling – writing down your thoughts, goals, fears, or annoyances can help release pent-up emotions and get them out on paper, rather than brewing in your mind.
Laughter: They weren't lying when they said laughter is good medicine. Studies show that laughing can relieve stress and even boost the immune system. Make time for a funny movie or even look up a few menopause jokes every day!
Community: Our emotional health relies on the power of our community. Having positive relationships with our friends, family, and neighbors can make a big difference during the ups and downs of life in gerenal and menopause. Reach out to a menopause support group for extra care.
Rest: Just as activity and exercise are important for mental health, so is rest. Be sure to prioritize your sleep and take breaks. Quality sleep balances hormones and supports the brain.
Menopause and Sex Drive: Keep the Spark Alive
Sadly, sexual health for menopausal women is often overlooked, leaving millions of women with questions, concerns, and a lack of support. While conventional medicine offers a few remedies (like vaginal estrogen to relieve dryness), many women are left wondering if their sexual symptoms are normal and if their libido has left for good.
Thankfully there are some additional natural ways that women going through menopause can use to reignite their spark and once again enjoy a fulfilling sex life:
Lubricants: It's okay if you're not producing as much vaginal wetness as you need. That's what personal lubricants are for! Lube is a simple solution to reduce friction and make sex more pleasurable for all parties involved. They add gentle moisture to the vagina and reduce dryness to make intercourse less painful.
Sexual Enhancers: There are many different sexual enhancers for women out there - everything from dietary supplements to female arousal gels. You can apply the gel to your clitoris. Some have natural ingredients such as peppermint to stimulate blood flow which leads to increased stimulation and sensitivity.
Kegel Ball Exercises: Kegels are vaginal exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. Keeping these muscles strong is an important factor in maintaining good bladder function and sexual function throughout menopause.
Kegel balls are a great tool to practice kegel exercises regularly. Kegel balls work by stimulating your pelvic muscles, increasing blood flow, and activating nerves in the reproductive organs. They increase the thickness of the vaginal wall to prevent bladder leakage and help the body maintain its natural lubrication. For menopausal women, Kegel ball exercises can be a life-changing habit that offers a more enjoyable sex life for years to come.
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.