Euphemisms about women’s reproductive health are legion in our culture. (Think, “a bun in the oven,” “the rabbit died,” or “my aunt is in town.”) When it comes to menopause, however, there may be good reason for trying to put a positive spin on “the change of life.”
What's not to like about mood changes, night sweats, anxiety, hot flashes, painful intercourse, and frequent urination? And the treatment may be worse than the cure: powerful hormones in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with side effects that rival menopause itself for discomfort, but that, unlike menopause, can be life-threatening.
Natural menopause is when a woman's body has no menstrual period for a year, generally between the ages of 40 and 58, although for some women the ordeal can start as early as their late 30's or as late as their 60's.
How Could This Happen to a Nice Girl Like You?
The unpleasant symptoms of menopause are simply the result of changing estrogen levels
. As menopause approaches, a woman's body makes less and less of the hormone estrogen. A decrease in estrogen accounts for most of menopause's most distressing symptoms, such as reduced sex drive, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and trouble sleeping. Even worse, these symptoms can last for up to ten years!
Traditional therapies involving estrogen and progesterone (another hormone) lead to increased risk of stroke, heart attack, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. Women who follow only traditional medical treatments for menopausal symptoms have to weigh the increased risk of life-threatening conditions like stroke and cancer against relief from the myriad discomforts of their body's changing hormone levels.
Fortunately, there are safe and effective natural products that can help to control the tribulations of menopause.
The bane of every menopausal woman's life is the flushing and sudden feeling of heat that comes on for no apparent reason at the worst possible time (say, in the middle of a presentation to your boss's boss). Science has not yet solved the riddle of what causes hot flashes, but it has some rules for how to diminish them. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and spicy foods. Get daily exercise, and wear light, cotton clothing.
A natural supplement
made from the root of the black cohosh can also provide relief from hot flashes. Two-thirds of women have hot flashes during menopause; it is the most common perimenopausal symptom. Other treatments include red clover and flaxseed. As with any treatment, be sure to talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking a supplement.
Changing hormone levels also affect the density of bones in the body. When estrogen levels decrease, bones may become lighter, thinner, and more fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects millions of women worldwide; 50% of women will experience some degree of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can weaken bones to the point of spontaneous fracture, bones breaking without significant stress.
Calcium and vitamin D work together to stop or slow the damage of osteoporosis by helping to increase bone mass and density. Two or three supplemental doses during the day – with meals – are absorbed more completely than a single large dose.
You Don't Have to Suffer Through Menopause
You don't have to put your health at risk to get relief from the symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh, red clover
, flaxseed, calcium, and Vitamin D can help, without the serious side effects of hormone replacement therapy.