Menopause and the Effects of Fluctuating Estrogen Levels

Treating it With Natural Remedies > prevent age related diseases > menopause

Contributed by Tom Chua, R. Pharm.

What is this condition?

the time in a woman's life in which the menstrual cycle ends and estrogen levels drop, preceded by the perimenopause or premenopause

Menopause is a natural condition of aging that occurs when a woman’s ovaries no longer produces eggs and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. At this stage, a woman is no longer able to conceive and become pregnant and menstruation stops. Experts agree that menopause is complete when a woman has not had a period for a year.

However, this change in life does not happen suddenly. It is a gradual process that can take 2 to 10 years. Perimenopause (or premenopause) is the term used to describe this transitional stage.

During this perimenopause phase, a woman can suffer from many symptoms, many of which can be annoying and disruptive to their lives. These symptoms occur because the ovaries that normally produce estrogen and progesterone are producing less of them. Having less estrogen causes a wide variety of physical changes to the vagina, breasts, bones, heart, blood vessels, skin, hair and brain.

The average age of menopause is 51. Perimenopause can start from mid 30's to the early 50's and can last from 2 to 10 years.

What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?

Common signs and symptoms that appear include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Menstruation change (including heavy bleeding)
  • Anxiety, depression or irritability
  • Dryness in the vagina
  • Loss of sex drive (libido)
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fluid retention
  • Thinning of the hair or hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Joint pains
  • Recurrent bladder infections
  • Changes in the quality of the skin
  • Incontinence

Natural Remedies

Five Natural Remedies for Treating Perimenopause Symptoms

Menopause is not a disease nor can it be prevented. The main purpose of using either prescription hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or natural remedies is to lessen the symptoms.

HRT is known to increase the chance of getting breast cancer so discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor. Lifestyle changes and natural supplements are the best way to manage the annoying symptoms of perimenopause with very little risks or side effects.

Below is a list of commonly suggested natural remedies:

Black Cohosh
This natural remedy has been extensively studied and shown to be helpful in relieving hot flashes. Any natural remedy sold to treat premenopause symptoms will always include this herb in their formulation.

Soy is a rich source of plant-based estrogens (called phytoestrogen). Consider eating soy protein powder or adding soy-based foods such as tofu, miso soup, soybeans and soy milk to your diet. Japanese women have less severe perimenopause symptoms because their diet consists of large amounts of soy-based foods.

Clinical studies show that chasteberry is effective for treating hot flashes, mood swings and helps with reducing heavy bleeding.

Ground flaxseed is a rich source of phytoestrogens just like soy protein. It also promotes heart health and there is good evidence that it can prevent breast cancer. But, do not take the flaxseed oil. The oil does not have the important phytoestrogen, lignans, so it is not as beneficial as flaxseed for symptoms.

Other natural remedies that are useful include St. John’s wort for managing anxiety and depression, ginseng to help with memory problems and low sex drive and vitamin E for memory, anxiety and depression.

A complete list of natural remedies that can be used to treat menopause is found in this article on Natural remedies for menopause.

Natural Remedies Review provides unbiased and comprehensive reviews of natural remedies including the health benefits, side effects and the dose to use to treat various health problems. > prevent age related diseases > menopause

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