14 Feb The Ultimate Guide to Beating Menopause
Menopause is a biological process that occurs in every woman, typically between the ages of 35-55. Although this process can begin earlier in some women, it is not a matter of if but rather when. Hormones affect nearly every physiological process in your body. When hormone levels decrease during menopause, there are unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms range from hot flashes, night sweats, depression, insomnia, thinning of hair, bladder complications, vaginal dryness, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, dry skin and mood swings. Some women will experience the above symptoms years before they are actually in menopause. The question is what can we do about it? Are there ways to “beat menopause”? The answer is unequivocally yes!
Ways to “beat menopause” include exercise, nutritional diet and stress reduction, herbal remedies and hormone replacement therapy. Simple lifestyle changes can not only reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms but also can help protect women from other disease states such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Exercise will not reduce menopausal symptoms; however it will relieve stress, improve mood, quality of life and cognition. There are many ideas for a menopausal diet that eliminate or greatly reduce symptoms. The bottom line for dietary adjustments are not much different from other dietary recommendations; multiple servings of fruit and vegetables per day, focus on whole grains rather than processed carbohydrates and minimize or eliminate alcohol, coffee and sugary drinks. It is believed that caffeine, alcohol, and large blood sugar fluctuations trigger the stress hormone, which causes worsening of menopausal symptoms like flushing. There is conflicting information regarding dietary intake of phytoestrogens such as soy and legumes and their safety. Phytoestrogens are not to be the sole replacement of estrogen loss in menopause, so high doses are not the answer. The phrase “everything in moderation” can be applied to phytoestrogens and for the other dietary restrictions listed above as well. While these can be used to help symptoms, I feel bioidentical hormone replacement would be better suited.
Herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms can be of some benefit depending on symptoms presented. These items can be purchased over-the-counter and include items like black cohosh and chaste berry. Black cohosh has been known to alleviate depression and has anti-inflammatory properties. Chaste berry can help with night sweats and hot flashes by regulating prolactin, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Hormone replacement therapy is the most customary treatment plan and can be used in conjunction with any or all of these other treatments. The idea is to supplement the declining hormones that the ovaries are not able to produce when you were younger. Now it is important to differentiate between compounded and synthetic hormone therapy since not all are created equally. Knowing the difference between the two, you will get varied results and impacts. Compounded hormone replacement therapy will be “bioidentical” whereas synthetic blends are man-made replications of hormones. Why not replace diminished hormone levels with hormones that are identical to what your body is already used to? The beauty of compounded hormone replacement therapy is an individualized approach that includes a dose specifically for you as well as making the hormone “bioidentical”. With hormone replacement therapy, it’s important to discuss expected outcomes, concerns and provide a full medical history to make sure you are a good candidate. This information will help your physician tailor the best treatment plan for you individually.
Menopause and its associated symptoms can negatively impact quality of life and in some women be much more severe. So if this applies to you, the real question is what are YOU going to do to “beat menopause”?