What The Heck Can You Do About Menopausal Symptoms?
Hot flashes, night sweats, sleepless nights, irritation, weight gain, vaginal dryness, brain fog, and more. These are just a few of the symptoms you can experience in menopause. But it doesn’t have to be miserable. Menopause is a natural occurrence but it doesn’t have to take over your life.
If you’re starting to feel any of these symptoms, I’m sure you’ve asked Dr. Google what can be done. There are many approaches to relieving symptoms. They range from nature to medical and you need to figure out what will work best for you.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
For many reasons, women may choose an alternative or natural solutions to offer relief. Approximately 51% of women use CAM and more than 60% perceive it to be effective for menopausal symptoms.
Complementary and alternative medicine has been categorized as mind-body practices, natural products, and whole-system approaches.
Mind-Body Interventions for Menopause Symptoms
Hypnosis is a mind-body therapy that involves a deeply relaxed state of focused attention and individualized mental imagery that has been shown to help manage symptoms of menopause. Clinical trials showed that hypnotherapy reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an action-oriented psychological intervention that has been used to treat hot flashes, depression, and other menopausal symptoms. CBT is a time-limited treatment that focuses on changing cognitive appraisals and behavior choices to alter symptoms. CBT approach combines relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene, and behavioral changes to create a positive and healthy attitude to menopausal challenges.
Yoga, which originated in Hindu disciplines has become popular globally and morphed into many different styles. Yoga practices vary in intensity, level, the temperature of the session, and specific props used, but all practices generally have physical poses or movement sequences, conscious regulation of breathing, and mindfulness techniques to increase present awareness or positivity.
The effects of regular yoga practice can provide relief of mental as well as physical menopausal symptoms. As you age, you lose muscle, balance, and flexibility. These can all be greatly improved with yoga. I always suggest doing the style and intensity of yoga that works for your body. I don’t recommend hot yoga on a regular basis as it can deplete your Qi, energy, over time and may increase hot flashes.
Aromatherapy also referred to as essential oil therapy uses naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to treat various physiological and psychological imbalances. The scented oils are believed to reduce anxiety and increase relaxation, which may be beneficial in easing stressful menopausal symptoms.
Women who used aromatherapy were able to get better sleep, reduced hot flash frequency, and reduced physical and psychological symptoms of menopause.
- Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Black cohosh is a widely studied phyto-pharmaceutical North American plant that has been used for decades as a treatment for menopausal symptoms. It has been shown to reduce hot flashes. However, in my clinical practice, I have seen it to be more effective in combination with other synergistic herbs.
- Red Clover (Trifolium pretense)
Red clover is an herbaceous flowering plant in the legume family. It’s a rich source of isoflavones. These compounds function similarly to the hormone estrogen and may help alleviate symptoms associated with the decline in estrogen production that occurs with menopause.
Red clover is frequently used to treat or prevent various menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, and bone loss.
- Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis )
Dong Quai is a traditional Chinese herb that is most often used in combination with other herbs to treat female reproductive problems. It is also frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine to support women’s health and treat symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause.
Two separate studies found that Dong Quai significantly reduced hot flashes and night sweats.
- Maca (Lepidium meyenil)
Maca is a Peruvian vegetable that has been used for centuries in traditional folk medicine to treat physical ailments, such as anemia, infertility, hormonal imbalances, and certain menopause symptoms like diminished sex drive, moodiness, and vaginal dryness.
However, evidence for maca’s efficacy for menopause is very limited. I like it in the powder form and add it to my protein shakes.
Whole System Alternative Medicine Approaches
Reflexology is a specific type of massage performed on the feet and hands that is believed to stimulate corresponding glands and organs.
Study shows that reflexology helps with sexual dysfunction symptoms and hot flash frequency. Regardless of if it works on symptoms, I find it to be really relaxing so therefore reduces overall stress, which will help to reduce symptoms.
Homeopathic practitioners (homeopaths) subscribe to the principle that “like cures like.” Patients are given dilutions of natural substances that fit their particular constitution. Each remedy is based on you as an individual.
I have found homeopathy to be helpful for many issues and is a gentle approach that works with many women.
Acupuncture techniques come from traditional Chinese medicine and involve the insertion of small needles into the skin at certain points on the body. The foundation of acupuncture is a belief that diseases and symptoms occur because of disruptions in an individual’s qi, or life force energy.
Four trials found no significant difference between acupuncture and placebo of superficially placed needles or needling at non-acupoints. One study found that acupuncture plus auricular acupressure intervention was not significantly better than a hormone replacement control at improving hot flash severity. Six trials showed that acupuncture could improve vasomotor (Vasomotor symptoms are those that occur due to the constriction or dilation of blood vessels. They include hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, and changes in blood pressure), sleep, or somatic symptoms more significantly than placebo.
In my practice of over 18 years, I have found that the combination of herbal supplements and regular acupuncture treatments greatly reduce menopausal symptoms. So much so, that, patients do not need to take any hormone replacement therapy and are able to get back to their life without suffering miserably.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight gain is common during menopause that could be because of a combination of changing hormones, aging, lifestyle, and genetics. Gaining weight may lead to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes but one study showed that postmenopausal women who lost at least 10lbs of weight are likely to eliminate hot flashes and night sweat.
Many menopausal women need help with dropping weight as you have a whole new body and over exercising and reducing calories will not work like it did when you were younger. If you need help and want to know how I guide my patients. Here is a link to more info. https://healthcoachdonna.com/menopausereset
- Fruit and Vegetable Diet
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps prevent menopause symptoms. Fruits and veggies are low in calories and can help in making you feel full which helps with weight maintenance. Also, this type of diet helps prevent several diseases such as heart disease and bone loss.
Exercise helps improved energy and metabolism, healthier joints and bones, decreased stress, and improve sleep. But the thing about menopause is, over exercising can cause stress and increase cortisol levels, which will make your body hold onto weight. Move your body daily for at least 30 minutes, in some way that makes you happy, and BREATHE only through your NOSE.
- Drink Plenty of Water
During menopause, women often experience dryness. That is why drinking 8–12 glasses of water a day can help with this symptom. Drinking water can also reduce the bloating that can occur with hormonal changes. Hydration has also been shown to reduce hot flashes. If you want to feel what it’s like to be hydrated, drink 4oz of water every 30 minutes from the time you get up to about 2 hours before bed.
- Eat Regularly
Irregular eating may make certain symptoms of menopause worse, and may even hinder weight loss efforts. Eat within 1 hour of rising and make sure you have protein at every meal and snack. Don’t go more than 4 hours without eating except for between bed and waking in the morning. Make sure you stop eating 2-3 hours before bed and give yourself 12 hours of not eating from after dinner to breakfast the next morning. That means no snacking before bed. Eating like this will keep your insulin levels regular and not only help with weight, but also your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health.
You are an individual and no one size fits all solution will work. You need to try different solutions until you find the one or combination of several that works. Menopause doesn’t have to be miserable, so don’t let it take over your life. If you have a health care provider who is open to alternative solutions, then I would suggest always speaking with them. If you have an old school, closed minded one, then maybe it’s time to find someone who will support you. Herbal supplements can come with side effects and may not work in conjunction with your current medications. That is why I suggest finding a practitioner who can work with you and support your individual needs. No cookie cutter solutions.
If you do opt to just do the natural way of handling your menopause symptoms, it is still better to journey with professionals such as doctors or coaches who know better about handling menopausal symptoms. I work with patients all over the country and am happy to consult with you if you need help or support. Just send me an email at Donna@DonnaAcupuncture.com
Menopause doesn’t have to be miserable. I can help you go through menopause more comfortably so that it doesn’t take over your entire life. I have the tools you need to manage menopause in a more positive way.