What is the menopause and who can suffer from it?
Menopause is a period of a woman’s life where menstruation first of all starts to slow down and then stops altogether. It usually happens to women between the ages of 45 and 55, although sometimes it can start in younger women, particularly if they have had a hysterectomy.
This condition is particular to women and all biologically female people will go through the menopause at some time or another.
It can be frustrating, emotional and even painful and, unfortunately, even with the developments in modern medicine, there are no known cures for menopause or methods for speeding it up. Women can go through the menopause for many years.
What are the symptoms of menopause and how can they be alleviated with natural remedies?
Different women will experience the menopause in different ways: it is a condition that is particular to the patient and everyone will have their own ways of dealing with the symptoms and coping with them.
Some women may experience all the symptoms commonly associated with menopause; others will not suffer from many at all. The most common symptoms and side effects of the menopause are:
Irregular periods, including heavier flow on some months and lighter flow during other months. Periods will often become less easy to predict and you may miss a couple of months at a time before having another period. Additionally, periods may become extremely painful.
Hot flushes, which can last from 30 seconds to many minutes. Many women suffer from this symptom and experience sweating, shivering and reddening of the skin around the face in particular. However, these usually die down after the first couple of years.
Vaginal dryness, which can make intercourse more difficult and can make you more prone to things like thrush and other yeast infections.
Difficulty sleeping and Mood swings, like those that women often experience while on their period but often more intense and longer lasting.
Because there are currently no cures for menopause, many women struggle to cope with all these symptoms and side effects of the condition, and it can make life quite difficult and uncomfortable for many years.
For this reason, however, more and more women are now looking into alternative medicines, therapies and natural remedies to help combat the worst of these symptoms.
What natural remedies are available for those women going through menopause?
While there is no way to avoid menopause – if you are a woman, you are going to have to go through years of hormonal changes as your ability to have children shuts down – there are ways to make the symptoms more manageable.
Some of these things can be done even before you start going through the menopause and others can be done while you are suffering from the symptoms.
What to do before the menopause
The best way to get through the menopause as quickly and easily as possible is to keep care of your body throughout your life. This will help the body to work properly as your periods begin to slow down. The best ways to keep your body in tip top condition are the following:
Having a good diet will help you to ensure that your body is getting all the essential nutrients that it needs. Making sure to eat a wide range fresh fruit and vegetables every day, for example, is one of the best and easiest ways to provide your body with everything it needs to maintain itself and work properly.
Also make sure to stay away from fatty and processed foods, since these are packed full of fats, sugars and salts that can cause you to gain weight and will hurt the more intricate workings of your body.
Eating the right amount and making sure that you get the essential food groups into your diet can help your body maintain itself and is an essential way to help your body support itself while you are going through the menopause.
It can also help to prevent other health problems such as heart disease, heart attacks and liver disease, for example.
By eating well all throughout your life and keeping fat, sugar and salt to a minimum, you can ensure that the menopause goes as smoothly as possible and that there are no extra, nasty surprises.
Get enough sleep
Getting plenty of sleep is the best way to allow your body to repair itself throughout your life, and it is something that you should be aiming to do both before and during menopause.
Sometimes, women going through menopause will having difficulty sleeping because of hormonal imbalances, but this can be helped by having a regular sleeping pattern.
It is essential to get the right amount of sleep from day to day, since it can help the body to work properly and can even help to fight against other potential illnesses and problems.
Most fully grown adults need between six and eight hours of sleep each night to properly allow the body and brain to recuperate.
Drink plenty of fluids
Drinking enough water, milk, low-sugar squash, fruit and vegetable juices or even tea and coffee (although in smaller quantities) throughout the day is a great way to make sure that your body is in the best condition possible and working as efficiently as it can.
Scientists have even discovered a link between painful periods and dehydration, so you can start to beat cramps, both before and during the menopause, by staying well hydrated and drinking plenty of water.
When your brain gets enough hydration throughout the day, too, you will notice a marked improvement in your mood, your energy levels and in your general health, which can help during menopause since it can help to stabilize your mood swings.
However, you should try to avoid overly sugary drinks such as sodas and make sure that you do not drink too much tea and coffee or energy drinks, as the caffeine in them can affect symptoms of menopause, as well as other conditions, negatively.
Cut out alcohol and smoking
Alcohol and smoking are universally acknowledged by doctors to be extremely bad for you, and the affects they have on your body in general can be devastating.
While the occasional drink need not hurt the functioning of your body in the long run, smoking is known to increase the risk of developing conditions such as lung cancer after just one cigarette.
Even second hand smoke is dangerous. Cutting out the majority of alcohol is therefore very wise and either never smoking or quitting as soon as possible is absolutely necessary to allow your body to work in the way it is supposed to.
If are finding it difficult to stop smoking completely, talk to your doctor about people who can help. Addiction is never easy to beat, but if you want the menopause to go as smoothly as possible, it is worth trying to kick the habit once and for all.
The last essential way that you can easily maintain your body’s overall health is by making sure that you move it. A good diet and being hydrated are not always sufficient to get your body working as efficiently as possible.
As well as eating and drinking well, you have to make sure that you are moving your body in a variety of ways at least three times a week for around fifty minutes at a time, getting your heart rate up and getting sweaty.
You can do this by playing a sport, going for a long walk or run or going to the gym to lift weights, for instance.
It does not matter how you exercise, but strengthening your muscles – particularly those in your abdomen – can help to prevent and cope with menopause, and making sure that your body is in peak physical condition can even reduce the worst symptoms of menopause.
Natural remedies for menopause symptoms
While you are going through the menopause, you may find that you are in a lot of pain, that you are frustrated, sad and angry a lot of the time and that you find it difficult to lead a normal life.
During the time you go through menopause, therefore, you will need to have ways and means to make yourself feel better. Below are just a few of the best ways that you can help yourself get through this trying time in your life.
Change your diet slightly
While above we said that having a good diet was a great way to make the symptoms of menopause better and more bearable just by eating enough fruit and vegetables, for instance, there are actually more particular food stuffs that can be used to reduce the symptoms such as hot flashes and painful periods. These need to be eaten while you are going through the menopause.
Soy – soy is everywhere now, offering great alternatives to dairy products and providing great nutrition in every day meals.
However, soy is actually packed full of phytoestrogens which, according to some studies, can actually have a drastic effect on night sweats and hot flushes, two of the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
If possible, try to get soy and other soy products (such as tofu and soy milk) into your diet regularly so that you can start reaping the benefits.
Vitamin E – during the menopause you will want to be making sure that you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need by taking supplements.
Calcium, for instance, is very important for menopausal women since it can help counteract osteoporosis, a condition most often suffering by women wherein the bones become weaker and, therefore, more likely to break.
Vitamin E is one of the most essential supplements to take during the menopause as it can counteract hot flushes and make them easier and shorter. However, it can also be used topically to the vagina to help prevent and reduce vaginal dryness.
Flaxseed oil – packed full of omega 3 fatty acids, flaxseed is one of the best ingredients for your menopausal ‘cure’.
Although every patient is different, many women have claimed that taking flaxseed oil regularly has helped to reduce the number and severity of hot flushes suffered.
Besides helping with menopause, flaxseed oil is also great because it may also help to lower cholesterol, thus making your body healthier and better able to help you through the worst of the symptoms of menopause.
It is worth noting that whole flaxseed should be avoided if possible, since it is difficult to digest, but the oil is absolutely perfect and contains everything your body needs to get on and get through the menopause.
Black Cohosh – this ingredient is derived from buttercups and is not often found but can have a powerful effect on night sweats and hot flushes.
Some patients may find that black cohosh does not have much of an effect, but for those patients who do find it useful, it can be a life saver.
Black cohosh may also be instrumental in lowering blood pressure, so it is worth adding it to your diet and seeing what it can do for you.
As mentioned above, exercise is one of the key ways in which you should be keeping yourself fit and healthy so that menopause, occurring later in your life, is easier to deal with. You should keep exercising all throughout your life as long as you are physically able to.
However, during the menopause you may find that you are much more sore, much more stiff and, because you are older, it may be difficult to move in the same ways that you did when you were younger.
However, exercise is a great way to reduce the heaviness of periods, to make them more regular and to make them less painful. Consider, therefore, looking into alternative and more gentle (but still very challenging and useful) exercises such as yoga and aerobics or water aerobics.
These are more gentle on your body and easier to take your time with so that you can go at your own pace and help your body to remain fit and healthy. Remember to take this exercise at your own pace but try to move around three to four times a week for forty five to fifty minutes each time to maintain your good level of health.
Meditation is a great way to work through your mood swings and help improve your mood. Many people who suffer from the menopause may feel depressed and low at certain points, since it is such a huge point of change in a woman’s life.
Meditation, however, can be the best way to tackle these sorts of issues without having to take many different anti depressants that can themselves have a multitude of side effects.
It has also been linked to a reduction in the number and severity of hot flushes in many women, and can help you to sleep better should you be experiencing night sweats or difficulty drifting off at night because of stress or simply because of the menopause.
Why should you consider natural remedies for the menopause?
As has been mentioned previously, the menopause has yet no cure in modern, western medicine, and it is something that every woman will have to go through at some point in their lives.
Whereas sometimes medications are given to those who, for instance, undergo a hysterectomy to help make the menopause less immediately severe, it is something that is absolutely unavoidable.
You can, of course, opt to take these sorts of pills, particularly if your physician advises it, but these are not going to stop the menopause or completely prevent the worst of the symptoms.
This means that, if you are still in discomfort even after taking the medications that have been prescribed to you, you may want to consider looking into one or more of the natural remedies that have been suggested above.
It is important to note that every woman is different and will experience the menopause in different ways.
This means that it is fruitless to try and compare your experience to that of your neighbor, your friends or your female family members – everyone will experience different symptoms at different points during the menopause. The length and severity of the side effects will differ from person to person, too.
This means that, whereas one natural remedy might work for one woman, it might not work for you. In order to find the best remedies for you, you will need to experiment and try out all or at least most of the treatments and therapies suggested above.
If they work for you, recommend them to others. If not, try something else and see if that helps to alleviate the hot flushes, sleeping troubles, pains and night sweats, for instance. Most importantly: do not despair! You will get through the menopause and come out the other side.