What women should do to address menopausal issues
Menopause is inevitable for women. This phase of life comes with discomforting symptoms that can impact the quality of life. Women need to know what to do to improve their menopause symptoms.
Females pass through multiple life phases- infancy, puberty, reproductive phase, pre-menopause, menopause, post-menopause and elderly years. Each of these phases affects a female differently.
With your hormones constantly fluctuating, do you know what to expect of your next phase?
Women typically enter menopause when they are in their 40s and 50s. For women in the U.S., the average age that menopause occurs is 51 years. According to the National Institute on Aging, the menopausal transition often starts between ages 45 and 55, after which women enter post-menopause. 3
Menopause is a period in a woman’s life that signals the end of menstrual cycles. The term describes the changes women experience just before or after their period stops.
Menopause is not a disorder. It simply marks the end of a woman’s fertility period. ‘Postmenopause’ is a term used when a woman has been without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. It refers to the many years following menopause when the woman is without menstrual cycles.
Women experience menopause differently, with the symptoms lasting for many years. Some common symptoms of menopause include:
- Emotional changes and mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort
- Vaginal thinning
- Irregular or absence of menstruation
- Lower fertility
- Breast reduction and tenderness
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain and build-up of abdominal fat
- Changes in hair colour, texture and volume
- Urinary incontinence
- Increased risk of developing health conditions
If you are getting towards 40 years or have started experiencing some symptoms of menopause, you don’t have to fret as menopause symptoms are normal. However, there are some things you can do to help you get through the phase.
Natural ways to reduce menopause symptoms
About two-thirds of women experience menopause symptoms, including irritability, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, and tiredness.2 But, not many will find solutions to their symptoms.
Fortunately, some natural supplements and remedies can provide relief from symptoms. Below are some things women can do to reduce symptoms of menopause.
Eat phytoestrogen-rich foods
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Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that occur naturally in some plant products. These compounds mimic the effects of estrogen, a female reproductive hormone that reduces drastically during menopause.
Estrogen is an important hormone that helps maintain vaginal flow, lubrication and elasticity of the vaginal wall. It is the hormone that is responsible for developing and maintaining the female reproductive system and characteristics.
Phytoestrogen-rich foods may help balance hormones like estrogen in women. Asian countries like Japan consume phytoestrogens in high amounts. This may explain why menopausal women in Asian countries seldom experience hot flashes.
Phytoestrogen-rich foods include:
- Soybeans and soy products
- Sesame seeds
A study showed that diets rich in soy were linked with reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels, night sweats and hot flashes among women about to enter menopause.4
Avoid weight gain
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Weight gain during menopause is common. The reasons for this include ageing, hormone changes, genetics and lifestyle changes.
Weight gain, especially when it involves fat around the waist, increases the risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Losing excess fat can help reduce symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes.
One way to avoid weight gain is by exercising regularly. Everybody needs exercise, both the young and the old.
Aside from helping maintain body weight, exercising has been associated with better health outcomes such as reduced stress, healthier bones and joints decreased risk of diseases like stroke, heart diseases and diabetes.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
One of the effective ways to evade menopause symptoms is by eating meals rich in fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent foods for keeping weight in check as they are low in calories. They may also help prevent bone loss which is also common in women of menopausal age.
Also, fruits and vegetables are good for the heart, as they may help prevent cardiovascular diseases. This is very important considering that the risk of heart diseases tend to increase after the onset of menopause.
Keep a symptom diary
People’s body systems differ. For some people, certain foods can trigger symptoms like mood swings, night swears and hot flashes.
Foods that can trigger menopause symptoms include alcohol, caffeine and foods that are spicy or surgery.
It might help to keep a symptom diary. In the diary, you put down your symptoms with any particular thing (like food) you feel triggers the symptoms. The next thing to do is to try to avoid those triggers.
Take hormonal supplements
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Taking hormonal supplements like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can help address some menopausal issues in women suffering from menopause due to low estrogen.
DHEA occurs naturally and is produced in the adrenal glands. The primary function of DHEA is to produce hormones like estrogen. However, as women age, their body’s DHEA production declines, affecting estrogen production during menopause.
RxList experts agree that DHEA is one of the most effective solutions to vaginal thinning during menopause. They suggest that using vaginal inserts that contain DHEA may reduce pain during sex due to thinning vaginal walls.
Despite some studies suggesting the treatment of menopause symptoms with hormonal supplements, nobody must take over-the-counter supplements. There are usually not enough scientific data supporting the use of some of these supplements for treating menopause symptoms.
If you must take a hormonal supplement, it should be with a doctor’s supervision to avoid the risk of diseases like cancer or side effects like acne and excess body hair.
Drink enough water
Women in their menopause often experience dryness. This might be a result of low estrogen levels. Drinking up to eight glasses of water every day can help with these symptoms.
Water makes you feel full and increases metabolism. Therefore, it can aid weight loss and help prevent weight gain.1
Also, drinking water can help reduce the bloating that accompanies hormonal changes.
- Davy, B. M., Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Wilson, K. L., & Davy, K. P. (2008). Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(7), 1236–1239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.013
- Geller, S. E., & Studee, L. (2005). Botanical and dietary supplements for menopausal symptoms: what works, what does not. Journal of women’s health (2002), 14(7), 634–649. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2005.14.634
- National Institute on Aging (NIA). (2021, September 30). What is menopause? https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause
- Washburn, S., Burke, G. L., Morgan, T., & Anthony, M. (1999). Effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipoproteins, blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms in perimenopausal women. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 6(1), 7–13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10100174/