If you are a woman between 45 and 55 years old who is getting close to or is currently experiencing menopause, you may be surprised to find out that menopause technically only lasts one day. This happens the day your menstrual cycle stops for good, which usually occurs after you have gone one full year without menstruating. All the hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, sleeping problems and other annoying symptoms that happen as a result of this change actually happen during perimenopause, which is simply the time before your period ends.
As a woman, you should be aware of the fact that practically any change related to your reproductive cycle will affect you both physically and emotionally, and menopause is no exception. Whereas some women hardly experience any symptoms, others have to fight a series of symptoms that can often be difficult to deal with. Fortunately, only about 2% of women experience perimenopause symptoms serious enough to cause them to lose strength, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of women don’t need a bit of relief.
What are your options?
Despite the fact that it can be very uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that menopause is a natural phase in life, not an illness. Therefore, it doesn’t technically require any kind of treatment. However, if you suffer from recurring hot flashes, insomnia and uncontrollable mood swings, you’re surely in search of a solution, especially since perimenopause can last for several years. You may also experience “menopausal” symptoms months or years after this period has passed. This includes symptoms such as:
• irritability and anxiety
• difficulty sleeping
• hot flashes
• joint and muscle pain
• loss of libido
If you are in serious need of relief, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may seem like a viable option. Most menopause symptoms occur as a result of fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone levels. When menopause occurs in your body, your ovaries stop producing these hormones altogether, so HRT replaces them with other synthetic alternatives. However, this treatment has a number of side effects.
Fortunately, there are side effect-free natural options for reducing the symptoms of menopause. Here are a few of them:
If you don’t have a regular exercise routine yet, now is the time to start. Studies show that exercise can alleviate post-menopausal feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, while simultaneously helping women to prevent weight gain. This is important, because research shows that overweight women suffer from more hot flashes.
We recommend doing at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic physical activity per week, 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two, along with strength training exercises twice per week. Yoga, in particular, has been linked to reduced menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and sleep disorders.
2. Healthy diet
A diet rich in vegetables, proteins and healthy fats is essential for women who are getting close to that menopausal age. Foods with natural phytoestrogens, such as the lignans in linseed or the isoflavones in whole grains and beans, can help to relieve your symptoms by providing your body with a small dose of estrogen. You should also limit or avoid foods and beverages that contain sugar, caffeine and alcohol because these substances can exacerbate your symptoms and trigger hot flashes.
Women who received traditional Chinese acupuncture had less severe hot flashes and less mood swings than women who received a placebo treatment. Recent studies have also found that acupuncture works just as well as a medication called Effexor, which is frequently used to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Additionally, acupuncture does not have any side effects (whereas Effexor can cause nausea, fatigue, anxiety and more). On the contrary, this alternative treatment is proven to increase energy, sex drive and a feeling of well-being.
4. Stress relief
Emotional stress can wreck your hormonal balance at any time in life, as well as make symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety and depression even worse. That’s why it is important to stick to a strategy that will help you to lower your stress levels. Exercise, yoga and acupuncture, along with deep breathing, guided visualization, meditation, or even relaxing by reading a good book, are all ways to lower stress.
5. Herbal remedies
A number of herbs have been explored as possible treatments for menopausal symptoms. Among the most promising are:
Preliminary research suggests that black cohosh can have the same effect on the body as estrogen, although further studies have contradicted this theory. However, current evidence suggests that black cohosh may be a safe alternative to synthetic hormones in order to reduce symptoms such as slight mood swings and annoying hot flashes. Clinical studies in Europe found that black cohosh is capable of relieving menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, nervousness and irritability.
Clinical studies have shown that ginko biloba makes you more mentally alert.
Commonly known as “female ginseng,” dong quai can be extremely useful in treating hot flashes.
Sage leaf extract
This herb can help to reduce night sweats that occur as a result of menopausal hot flashes.