Natural menopause is defined as 12 consecutive months of amenorrhea after the final menstrual period. (Lucas, 2009) Menopause might start at a wide range of ages, usually from 42 to 58 years, with an average age of 51 years. Menopause is a completely natural biological process and therefore not considered a problem to solve. In a healthy state, during the menopausal changes and beyond, you can stay healthy, vital, and sexually active. On the other hand, if your hormonal system is not functioning well or is not balanced, you might experience the symptoms of Menopause. The most common symptoms that menopausal women might experience depression or mood swings, hot flashes, joint aches, pain, and stiffness increases during the menopausal transition. (Freeman, 2007) Hot flashes affect as many as 75% of menopausal women. The symptoms of menopause are associated with the fluctuating and declining levels of estrogen. (Berendsen, 2000) Estrogen loss also plays a significant role in the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, which might be explained due to the multiple cardiovascular risk factors, such as atherogenic lipid profile, hypertension, or increase in body weight. (Lebrun, 2002) This article will focus on the natural therapy to balance your hormonal system.
It is important to mention that menopause symptoms might also be caused by estrogen dominance, a condition that is not often talked about or mentioned, which includes low progesterone and high estrogen. For more information on this topic, please read my next article: ‘The Dangerous of Excess Estrogen Levels, Even for Women.’
The problem with hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) comes with many risks. One of these is a higher risk of incident and fatal breast cancer, as well as endometrial cancer. A study conducted in England found that current users of HRT were more likely to develop breast cancer than women that did not use HRT. The researchers estimate that the use of HRT by women aged 50–64 years in the UK over the past decade has resulted in 20,000 extra breast cancer patients from estrogen based medication and 15,000 cancer patients from oestrogen-progestogen based medication. (Garton, 2003) According to a study that was published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the risk for endometrial cancer increases substantially with long duration of estrogen use. It is also concerning that this increased risk persists for several years after discontinuation of estrogen. (Grady, 1995)
Another problem with HRT is an increased risk for probable dementia (Shumaker et al., 2003). According to the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators (2002) “the overall health risks exceeded benefits from use of combined estrogen plus progestin… among healthy postmenopausal US women.”
Because of the health risks that involve hormone replacement therapy, we recommend to use natural Treatments instead to balance you hormones.
Natural Treatment for Menopause
The treatment of menopause is focused on two aspects: relief of symptoms and balance of the hormonal system.
Omega 3 Oil
Studies showed that consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (O3-PUFAs) has shown to offer beneficial effects, including cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory effects. (Sánchez, 2017) Consumption of large doses of omega-3 fatty acids was found to reduce blood pressure and triglycerides and improve depressive and psychotic symptoms in postmenopausal women, without an increase in the risk of cancer. (Sánchez, 2017) However, lower amounts of omega 3, 0.615 g omega-3 supplement, 3 times/day, was not effective in improving vasomotor symptoms, psychosocial, physical or sexual function. (Reed, 2014) Based on the evidence, I would highly recommend menopausal women to consume 2 to 3g of omega-3 fatty acids.
Evening Primrose Oil
One of the most widely used agents for natural support of menopause is evening primrose oil (EPO) (Farzaneh et al., 2013) Evening primrose oil is extracted from the evening primrose plant and can be purchased as a supplement in gel capsule form. A scientific study conducted by Farzaneh et. al (2013) showed a significant decrease in the severity of hot flashes compared to a placebo group when women took 1,000 mg per day for 6 weeks. This study also showed a positive effect on social activity, relations with others, and sexuality, although non-significant.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in many natural foods including almonds, sunflower seeds, and avocados. There are different forms of vitamin E supplements classified as either tocopherols or tocotrienols. A scientific study using 400 IU of alpha tocopheryl acetate showed a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women (Ziaei, Kazemnejad & Zareai, 2007).
Physical exercise may have a regulating effect on your brain neurotransmitters, which regulate your temperature control center in your brain (central thermoregulation). A study conducted in Sweden found that women that exercised regularly had fewer hot flashes than women that did not. (Ivarsson T, et al., 1998).
Menopause has been related to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. The presence and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women have been associated with impaired blood vessels, endothelial function, and advanced subclinical atherosclerosis. (Bechlioulis et. al., 2012) High doses of fish oil were found to be beneficial in the reduction of inflammation. However, lifestyle and diet changes are most often the best approaches to reducing the risk for inflammation. It is important to reduce the intake of alcohol, sugar, and refined carbohydrates, as they are associated with increased inflammation.
Support your adrenal glands
Adrenal glands, also referred to as the ‘stress glands,’ secrete cortisol as a response to stress. Cortisol increases your blood sugar levels and gives us that sensation of ‘awake and alert.’ Cortisol levels change during the day, from high in the morning to low in the evening.
If your adrenals are not working properly they might secrete improper levels of cortisol. Studies show that women with lower cortisol levels in the morning and higher than normal cortisol levels in the afternoon have more hot flashes. (Reed et al., 2016) The adrenal glands can be checked with a simple and affordable test. It should only be done through saliva, four times a day, to get the best and most reliable information on the function of your adrenals.
Manage your stress
Chronic stress may increase your levels of cortisol. (Miller, Chen, & Zhou, 2007) High levels of cortisol might cause sleep disturbances. (Kumari, 2009) Chronic stress may also affect the function of the adrenals and might lead to dysfunction of the adrenal glands.
The are several factors that cause hormonal imbalance. Among them are heavy metals, environmental toxins, such as pesticides or herbicides, and gut dysfunction. These factors can lead to an imbalance that not only will cause hormonal symptoms, but also chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, and even cancer. Look for a functional medicine doctor who receive proper training and have experience to find and treat the root cause of the problem.
Aris Bechlioulis, Katerina K. Naka, Sophia N. Kalantaridou, Apostolos Kaponis, Odysseas Papanikolaou, Patra Vezyraki, Theofilos M. Kolettis, Antonis P. Vlahos, Konstantina Gartzonika, Anestis Mavridis, Lampros K. Michalis; Increased Vascular Inflammation in Early Menopausal Women Is Associated with Hot Flush Severity, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 97, Issue 5, 1 May 2012, Pages E760–E764, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2011-3151
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