Natural Treatments to Feel Better about Menopause
“Menopause refers to the end of menstruation,” explained expert OB/GYN Adela Navarro, M.D. “Typically, a woman has her last menstrual period at age 51. Before menopause, there is a transition called perimenopause, which typically begins in the mid-40s. This may last three to five years.”
Cranky and Blue?
Research shows that fluctuating hormones play a role in menopausal mood changes. Many women dealing with mood swings are trying herbs and other plant-based products. While there is inadequate scientific evidence to know whether they are safe and effective, experts are researching some of the most promising: black cohosh, red clover, hops, dong quai, flaxseed and dietary soy. “Discuss natural remedies with your health care provider,” Dr. Navarro said. “These products can have side affects or adversely interact with certain medications.”
To lessen the likelihood and severity of hot flashes:
- Avoid spicy foods, hot beverages, caffeine, cigarette smoking and alcohol
- Take 400 to 800 IU (international units) of vitamin E daily (with your doctor’s OK)
- Manage stress (a hot flash trigger) with muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga and guided imagery
- Try strengthening exercises to reduce severity
- At night, avoid snacks with fat, sugar or caffeine
Hormonal shifts often cause skin to lose elasticity and become dryer. Try drinking four to six 8-ounce glasses of water daily, using a good moisturizer and wearing sunscreen. Falling estrogen levels can also make the vaginal tissue thin and dry, which causes painful intercourse, itching, burning and pain. Try an over-the-counter lubricant as well as vitamin E or sesame oils. An oatmeal bath or bathing the outer vaginal area with plain water once a day may also help with itching.
“By listening to your body, menopause can be some of the best years of your life!” Dr. Navarro said.