Menopause: The Best Years of Your Life
Menopause is a normal phase in a woman’s life. You can do a number of things to ease negative symptoms. Some sail through this time with few discomforts and others need medical or some type of other natural intervention to ease the symptoms.
Peri-menopause has a median age of 47.5 years and is defined as the period of transition to natural menopause when the body undergoes endocrine and biological changes resulting from declining hormones from the ovaries.
These are a few risk factors for some women entering menopause early: smoking may cause you to enter menopause 1-2 years earlier; family history as women in families tend to enter menopause at about the same age; never having had a baby; childhood treatment for cancer; and hysterectomy that removes the uterus but not the ovaries.
Peri-menopausal symptoms may include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle: Ovulation becomes more erratic, which can affect the duration of your menstrual cycle and you may skip periods
- Hot flashes and sleep problems: About 65-75% of women experience hot flashes and out of those 15% experience more severe menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes happen when the estrogen level decreases and the small blood vessels dilate inappropriately. Sleep problems are often due to night sweats.
- Mood changes: Some experience mood swings, irritability or depression, but the cause may be sleep disruption or other menopausal symptoms.
- Vaginal dryness and bladder problems: As estrogen levels diminish, your vaginal tissue may lose lubrication and elasticity, and sometimes intercourse may become painful. A few women have problems with incontinence.
- Decreased fertility: With irregular ovulation, your ability to conceive diminishes but it is possible to become pregnant as long as you’re having periods.
- Fluctuations in sexual desire: This is true for some women, but many who have had satisfactory sexual intimacy before menopause will continue to enjoy intimacy for years to come.
- Loss of Bone Density: Declining estrogen levels can cause loss of bone density more quickly than you can replace which increases your risk for osteoporosis
- Changing cholesterol: Estrogen helped keep healthier cholesterol levels, so as it declines this may become a problem.
Peri-menopause can last for over 6 years, but 4 years is the average, and it usually ends after 12 months of no menstrual periods.
Herbs and Diet Help Alleviate Symptoms
In the Western world, the average age of menopause is 51 years old. There is no relationship between a woman's first period and her last. The age of menopause is not related to race, height, the number of your children, or use of contraceptives.
Many women pass through menopause without the need to see a doctor. Some women get prescription estrogen from their doctors but there are many natural ways to treat menopausal symptoms.
Approximately 38% of the women receiving prescriptions quit after 1 year due to side effects, such as; menstrual bleeding, bloating, premenstrual irritability, cramps, breast tenderness, depression and a few have headaches plus weight gain. You are also more prone to get gall bladder disease while on prescriptive estrogen.
There are some great herbal remedies that will ease menopausal symptoms:
- Vitamin E helps improve the stability of blood vessels and wards off the erratic dilation of blood vessels which cause hot flashes. Normal dosage is 400 IU, but you can take up to 1200 IU after discussing it with your MD.
- Black Cohosh (cimicifuga racemosa) is very effective. Start with 10 drops twice a day; increase 5 drops every other day until you get a satisfactory result. It takes about 4 weeks for the full effect.
- Moutherwort Weed (Leonurus cardiaca) is a good herbal ally for moderating symptoms. Dilute 5-15 drops of the tincture of moutherwort made from fresh flowering tops in water or tea. You can drink several cups a day.
- Common Chickweed (Stellaria meda) is another herb good for hot flashes. Use 25-40 drops of fresh plant tincture once or twice a day to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. You should see results in about 1-2 weeks
- Elder Flower (Sambucus Canadensis) resets the body’s thermostat treating hot flashes and night sweats. Use 25-50 drops of the elder blossom tincture several times daily and receive rapid results.
- Violet (Viola odorata) is used to cool those hot flashes. Use leaves on a salad. Violets grow in many people’s lawns. You can also brew teas by steeping 1 ounce of dried violets in a quart of boiling water, letting it sit overnight, then strain and refrigerate. Drink it within 48 hours with just a cup a day. Some studies have shown that consuming these products twice a day can reduce the number of hot flashes.
- Herbs containing phytoestrogens such as Red Clover have been used in Asia for thousands of years to treat a number of diseases, and recently have been shown to improve bone density and reduce the number of hot flashes.
- Peruvian Maca is a root believed to work by stimulating glands in the body to produce their own estrogen and testosterone. It is cultivated in the Andes. It is claimed to reduce PMS symptoms, reduce depression, reduce mood swings, hot flashes, help with sleep disturbance and create a general feeling of well being.
- Natural progesterone creams usually contain extracts from Mexican wild yam, which contains a substance similar to the progesterone produced in the body. The creams are applied to the parts of the body where the skin is thinner, such as between the breasts, inner thighs, inner forearms or stomach. Many woman claim they help with symptoms but there are no studies to back this up.
- Chaste tree berry (Chasteberry or Vitex agnus castus) has been used since ancient Greek times to treat many ailments, and it is thought to stimulate progesterone production and alleviate severe PMS and a wide range of Menopausal symptoms.
Obviously, this is a long list of herbs for treatment and you might want to investigate a little further with a good herbal book or talk to someone at a health food store to get further information
Benefits of Exercise and Yoga
The benefits of exercise for the peri-menopausal or post-Menopausal woman are numerous and very important to your overall health. They include preventing weight gain as your metabolism slows with age, helping to prevent loss of muscle mass, reducing the risk of breast cancer, reducing the risk of other diseases, and boosting your mood. Physical activity after menopause should improve your psychological health.
Yoga stretches can benefit both the body and the mind, bringing energy and balance. This is something you can do without any negative side effects. It causes you to listen more carefully to your body, and you will benefit from the awareness of the moment.
For example, maybe your shoulders are tense; then, you stop and consciously relax your shoulders. Your posture will improve and you will be more capable of releasing anger or tension, instead of letting it build up. You will have more self-confidence, and it will help treat depression. You will also find you rest better at night.
Yoga and Other Exercises
Yoga will reduce menopausal symptoms by balancing the endocrine system. It helps smooth out the hormonal and glandular changes that take place at this time of life. Regularly practice all of the categories of poses to stimulate the organs and tissues. The poses are standing, sitting, lying down, backbends, forward bends, twists, and inverted (upside down) poses.
The inverted poses are particularly important as they have a powerful effect on the neuroendocrine system, allowing fresh oxygenated blood to flow to the glands in the head and neck. The body is quite capable of adjusting to menopause as the ovaries slow down if the other organs are functioning well and they will continue to produce all the hormones a woman needs for the rest of her life.
Some of the more important Yoga poses for menopausal women include; the supported lying down pose called “The Goddess Pose”, The Dog Pose”, The “Menopausal Bridge Pos” and “The Great Rejuvenator.”
It is most important to practice Yoga’s restorative poses which are passive poses where the body is completely supported by Yoga props. Props help you stay in poses for a longer period of time and they conserve energy, allowing the nervous system to relax. A Yoga bolster provides firm support for the entire length of your spinal column from your head to your lower back when lying down. This is just one of the available props.
Joint flexibility is important as well and will improve range of motion. Gentle exercises that promote mobility, flexibility, and relaxation while decreasing stiffness and soreness often help the menopausal woman. Other helpful tips are to use stairs when possible. Daily walking is also one of the best exercises.
Deep breathing exercise is very effective at creating a calm, peaceful mind. You sit comfortably and close your eyes while relaxing your muscles. Slowly breathe in and out through the nose becoming aware of each breath. Try to disregard all distractions. Meditation is extremely useful done regularly.
Women all have to go through menopause and there are some natural remedies that are available that your doctor should be able to help you with as well as, prescription medicine as necessary.
It doesn't have to be an awful time, but it is more difficult for some women than others. Treat yourself well, eat healthily, and exercise to lessen symptoms. Talk to your girlfriends into doing some things that will benefit everyone, which will help your overall attitude.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.