Your Top 3 Menopause Questions, Answered

The thought of menopause can be scary because it’s often associated with unpleasant symptoms. But is menopause really as bad as it’s sometimes portrayed in sitcoms and other television shows? Do some women sail through menopause without even realizing it or is the experience always terrible? To help ease your mind and prepare you for this important phase in life, here are your top three menopause questions, answered.

1. What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?

As your body approaches menopause, your estrogen levels begin to act a little haywire. They may be elevated one day, then fall the next. These extreme hormone changes can lead to a lot of symptoms, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Sleep problems
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increased abdominal fat

Don’t those symptoms sound fun? As your body approaches and goes through menopause, you’re likely to experience more than one of the above symptoms. If you’re lucky, you’ll get them all! But it isn’t the end of the world. The symptoms you’re experiencing won’t last forever, and there may be things you can do to minimize them.

Some women experience very mild menopause symptoms. It’s not clear why some women have mild symptoms while others have extreme symptoms when going through menopause. If you think you might be going through menopause but you aren’t sure, you can do a blood test. Your doctor will test your estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone levels to confirm if you’re going through menopause.

2. Are There Complications Associated With Menopause?

Most of us ladies will go through menopause without any major issues. But some of us may develop complications from menopause. The below complications are associated with menopause (though they are also associated with the normal process of aging).

  • Weight gain
  • Heart disease
  • Urinary problems
  • Osteoporosis

The physical changes that happen to your body during menopause may leave you more susceptible to the above complications after menopause. During the postmenopausal stage, estrogen levels are quite low. These low levels can negatively impact bone and heart health. It can also lead to weight gain (particularly around your middle section) and make you more prone to urine leakage (especially when laughing or coughing).

You can lower your risk of these complications by quitting smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, and looking into treatment options for urinary incontinence. Don’t worry – you may not develop any of these issues after going through menopause. It is just a good idea to look out for them and be prepared to deal with them if they occur.

3. How Can I Treat My Menopause Symptoms?

There are treatment options available for women going through menopause. Before you start taking any of the available menopause medications, it’s important to understand that they come with risks and potential side effects.

Hormone therapy is one of the most common treatments for menopause and it can minimize symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. However, hormone therapy is also associated with an increased risk of stroke, uterine cancer and breast cancer. Talk to your doctor to figure out whether the risks of hormone treatments are worth the benefits they can offer.

You may be able to naturally minimize your menopause symptoms by doing the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating more foods high in phytoestrogens (such as flaxseeds, soybeans, beans and tempeh)
  • Reducing consumption of processed foods and refined sugars
  • Staying properly hydrated
  • Taking natural hormone-support supplements (such as red clover extract, black cohosh, dong quai and evening primrose oil)
  • Eating sufficient protein for your body’s needs

If you don’t want to take hormone replacement therapy, try the above natural remedies to minimize your menopause symptoms. Don’t forget that menopause doesn’t last forever. Take it one day at a time until you get through this challenging phase of life. There are millions of women fighting alongside you!

6 Natural Ways To Alleviate Symptoms of Menopause

For most women, menopause will begin in their late 40s or early 50s, lasting for a few years. While not all women will experience severe menopausal symptoms, nearly two-thirds will. The symptoms include:

  • Irritability 

  • Mood swings 

  • Night sweats 

  • Tiredness 

  • Hot flashes 

If that wasn’t enough, menopausal women have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Because of the increased risks and predictable symptoms, most women look for relief from their doctors. However, not all women want to turn to prescriptions or OTC medicines to help combat symptoms. Thankfully, there are several natural ways to reduce the severity of menopause.

1. Diet and Weight Management 

Menopause leads to several hormonal changes that can weaken bones, meaning calcium and vitamin D are crucial nutrients during menopausal years. While there are many sources of both essential nutrients, some of the most beneficial are: 

  • Natural sunlight  

  • Leafy greens (Kale, spinach, collard greens) 

  • Calcium-fortified foods 

  • Oily fish 

  • Eggs 

  • Cod liver oil 

While menopause commonly leads to weight gain because of hormonal changes, genetics, aging, and lifestyle choices, excess body fat around the waist increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Aside from reducing severe health risks, women who lose at least 10% of their body weight can eliminate uncomfortable menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

2. Exercise 

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. While it might not have any effect on hot flashes, several studies suggest the positive impact of consistent workouts, including: 

  • Improved energy 

  • Better sleep 

  • Decreased stress 

  • Healthier joints 

  • Improved metabolism 

  • Reduced risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, anxiety

3. Hydration

A common side effect of menopause is dryness and dehydration; the assumed cause is decreasing estrogen levels. Menopausal women should consume at least eight to 12 glasses of water per day to reduce the likelihood of dehydration, dryness, and bloating.  

Drinking enough water can also help with weight management and loss. When you drink enough water, you are more likely to feel fuller longer. Additionally, water can increase your metabolism.

4. Trigger Foods

Some women might be surprised to learn that certain foods can trigger adverse menopausal side effects, such as mood swings, night sweats, and hot flashes. While there are several common triggers, including alcohol, caffeine, spicy and sugary foods, every woman is different. 

It would be best if you kept a symptom diary to track your trigger foods. Write down everything you eat and how you feel after the meal. You want to keep track for several weeks to determine likely food triggers.

5. Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, meaning foods rich in these compounds can help balance hormones during menopause. Women in many Asian countries consume diets rich in phytoestrogens, and many experts credit that to why women in such countries rarely experience hot flashes. 

The phytoestrogen content can vary by food and processing method. Some of the foods with the highest phytoestrogen content include: 

  • Soybeans 

  • Soy products 

  • Tofu 

  • Flaxseeds 

  • Tempeh 

  • Linseeds 

  • Beans 

  • Sesame seeds 

6. Supplements

While the evidence is limited, many women stand by the use of natural supplements for treating menopausal symptoms. Some of the most popular supplements include: 

  • Black cohosh 

  • Phytoestrogens 

  • Probiotics 

  • Prebiotics 

  • DHEA-S 

  • Kava 

  • Dong Quai 

  • Evening primrose oil 

Menopause is a natural part of life, but its symptoms can be challenging. By making a few lifestyle and dietary changes, you can curb the severity of symptoms. However, you should always consult your doctor before making any drastic life choices. 

How do you cope with the symptoms of menopause? Leave a comment.