Menopause is a natural part of life that all women go through at some point. As you approach menopause, your body will start to produce less estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes can cause several unpleasant symptoms.
Every woman experiences menopause differently. It is preceded by a period called “perimenopause”, which marks the transition to menopause. A woman is considered to be menopausal when she hasn’t experienced any menstrual bleeding or spotting for at least a year.
As you approach menopause, it is normal to experience different symptoms. Common menopause symptoms include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Lighter or heavier periods
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Breast tenderness
In addition to causing these symptoms, menopause can also increase a woman’s risk of developing certain diseases. Conditions like heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression become more likely to occur after you enter menopause.
These changes can be disconcerting and uncomfortable, which can make women dread menopause. It is not uncommon to feel anxious as you enter this new stage in your life. Fortunately, there are many natural treatments and lifestyle strategies that can help you combat these symptoms.
Menopause is an unavoidable process that undoubtedly comes with some unpleasant consequences, but there are still many things you can do to feel good. Taking control over your body through these natural strategies can actually help you feel stronger and healthier than ever!
Menopause relief strategy #1. Phytoestrogens are natural compounds that can help restore your hormonal balance.
Phytoestrogens are compounds that occur naturally in some plants and can mirror the effects of estrogen. Therefore, they can help manage the effects caused by lower estrogen levels. You can get plenty of phytoestrogens through a vegetable-packed diet.
A 2015 study found that phytoestrogen supplementation can significantly reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes. Another study showed that phytoestrogens can cause mild improvement in cases of non-severe vaginal atrophy. Phytoestrogens can also help prevent bone density loss and osteoporosis.
You can find many phytoestrogen supplements, mostly in the form of capsules and powders. However, experts recommend trying to get your phytoestrogens from a healthy diet. Phytoestrogen-rich foods include:
- Red clover
- Sesame seeds
It is important to keep in mind that soy estrogens are contraindicated for women who are at high risk of breast cancer. And although phytoestrogen can be very beneficial for some women, they might not be effective for everyone. This is because only a third of women have a certain gut bacteria that transforms phytoestrogens into equol, a more potent compound.
Menopause relief strategy #2. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and can reduce hot flashes, stress, and depression.
Vitamin E can be beneficial for anyone, but it is especially important for menopausal women. This vitamin can help reduce your stress levels and improve different menopause symptoms. Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory properties are also believed to help prevent heart disease.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, which can reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a natural process that creates free radicals, which can harm your body. A 2007 study found that menopausal women reported fewer hot flashes while taking a vitamin E supplement.
Research has also linked low vitamin E levels and depression. A 2017 study demonstrated a relationship between low vitamin levels and depressive symptoms. They also found that this link was stronger for women who were older and overweight.
You can either take a vitamin E supplement or increase your dietary intake through these vitamin E-rich foods:
- Sunflower seeds
Menopause relief strategy #3. Different types of B vitamins can improve sleep, boost your mood, and even help regulate your blood sugar levels.
There are many different types of B vitamins, but they all play an important role in menopause. Vitamins B2, B6, and B12 are particularly important if you want to stay healthy during this stage.
Heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease have all been linked to low levels of B vitamins. These vitamins also play an important role in maintaining your neurologic function, and they help regulate carbohydrate metabolism.
Low vitamin B concentrations also constitute an important risk factor for bone density loss and osteoporosis. Insufficient vitamin B2 intake, in particular, has been linked to a higher risk of fractures during menopause. Vitamin B12 can also help prevent insomnia and other sleep disorders, and low levels of this vitamin can result in anemia.
Different conditions can affect your ability to absorb B vitamins, so taking a supplement can be helpful. You can also increase your intake through these foods:
- Red Meat
- Whole grains
Menopause relief strategy #4. Take calcium each day to keep your bones strong, prevent bone density loss and osteoporosis.
As you age and your body produces less estrogen, your bones become weaker. This is because low estrogen levels can lead to rapid bone density loss. In fact, menopausal women can lose up to 20% of their total bone density in 5 to 7 years.
Although you probably won’t develop osteoporosis or suffer fractures right after menopause, this bone density loss can be a significant risk factor as you get older. And increasing your calcium intake can help prevent these harmful changes.
Calcium is best absorbed through foods; however, most menopausal women don’t consume enough calcium each day. For this reason, experts recommend that women take a calcium supplement during perimenopause and menopause. You can also boost your calcium intake through these foods:
- Collard greens
- Calcium-fortified foods (bread, cereals, juice, amongst others)
Menopause relief strategy #5. Vitamin D naturally complements calcium to increase your bone strength.
Vitamin D works alongside calcium to promote bone health. This vitamin is necessary for your body to absorb calcium and phosphorus properly. These minerals are the main components found in human bones, so a vitamin D deficiency can lead to poor bone strength.
So, just like with calcium, vitamin D is absolutely necessary if you want to maintain your bone health. Additionally, vitamin D can also help prevent cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, depression, cognitive dysfunction, and certain types of cancer.
The best way to boost your vitamin D levels is to go out in the sun. You can also take a supplement or try vitamin D-rich foods such as Cod liver oil, oily fish, and eggs.
Menopause relief strategy #6. Omega-3 fatty acids can boost your organism and help prevent chronic disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits that can help prevent chronic disease for everyone. These benefits include:
- Improve eye health
- Prevent cardiovascular disease
- Boost immunity
- Help lower blood pressure
- Reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
- Promote brain function
- Aid in weight loss
- Reduce oxidative stress
- Reduce high triglycerides
- Prevent fatty-liver disease
- Boost bone health
- Prevent cognitive decline
- Improve asthma and allergies
Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids can be particularly beneficial for women going through menopause. In addition to reducing your risk of developing heart disease, omega-3 can also reduce hot flashes and improve mood disorders.
You can take an omega-3 supplement or increase your intake through oily fish, seeds, nuts, oysters, seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seeds, soybeans, and edamame.
Menopause relief strategy #7. Ginseng tea is a delicious way to reduce menopause symptoms.
The root of the Panax ginseng plant has been used to treat menopause symptoms for thousands of years. Ginseng tea has been found to improve hot flashes, night sweats, depression, and overall well being during menopause. It can also reduce your risk of heart disease.
Red ginseng can also help increase libido and sexual desire for postmenopausal women. You can make your own ginseng tea at home, or get a commercially available supplement.
Menopause relief strategy #8. Identify which substances and situations trigger your symptoms and try to avoid them as much as possible.
You might not be able to get rid of hot flashes completely, but identifying your triggers can help you decrease their frequency. Trigger substances are different for each woman, but certain foods, drinks, and situations tend to cause symptoms – like hot flashes, for example – more frequently.
The most common triggers that can cause menopause symptoms to include:
- Alcohol (especially red wine)
- Spicy foods
- Hot drinks
- Hot baths
- Hot weather
- Tight or heavy clothing
- Strong emotions
Menopause relief strategy #9. Flaxseed oil provides another healthy and effective alternative to HRT.
Flaxseed and the oil made from it can help you find relief from uncomfortable menopause symptoms. Evidence shows that taking 40 grams of ground flaxseed each day can reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes. As a result, flaxseed can help improve your quality of life during menopause.
Flaxseed also contains omega-3 fatty acids, so it can also help you reap the benefits that we talked about earlier. It also contains compounds called lignans, which can help prevent certain types of cancer. Lignans can also help balance your hormonal levels.
Menopause relief strategy #10. Acupuncture is fully natural and can help you combat menopause-related symptoms and increase your wellbeing.
Acupuncture has been used to treat many conditions for thousands of years, and with good reason. Modern research has found that this ancient practice can actually be a very effective alternative for numerous ailments.
Research has found that even short-term use of acupuncture can relieve certain menopause symptoms. Undergoing a weekly acupuncture session for 6 weeks has been shown to reduce hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disorders, skin and problems, and mood swings.
Even though the exact mechanisms that make acupuncture effective aren’t fully understood, there is no denying that it can work. Additionally, acupuncture comes with no negative side effects that could harm you.
Menopause relief strategy #11. Exercise can make you feel stronger and lift your mood at the same time.
Regular exercise can have many different benefits for menopausal women. As we get older, we start to lose both muscle mass and bone density. As a result, our bodies become weaker and it is easier to gain some extra weight. In fact, most women will gain some weight during menopause.
Exercise can help prevent heart disease, bone density and muscle mass loss, boost your mood, and even enhance your mental health. Staying fit can also help prevent loss of mobility, chronic pain, falls, and loss of mobility.
Although these problems tend to arise later on in life, exercise is still very important as you enter menopause. Working out regularly will help improve your quality of life and it will make it much easier to stay healthy as you get older.
Menopause relief strategy #12. Pine bark extract can help you feel your best by relieving menopause symptoms.
A 2011 study found that pine bark extract can lead to a significant reduction of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration, depression, irritability, headaches, breast tenderness, and skin problems, amongst others. This natural substance can also reduce your levels of oxidative stress, decreasing your body’s production of free radicals.
Final thoughts on Menopause
Perimenopause and menopause tend to cause several uncomfortable symptoms for most women. Once you enter menopause, you will also be more likely to develop certain chronic health conditions. It is very important to make your health a priority during this stage.
Menopause is a different experience for everyone, but you can almost certainly find relief through these natural treatments. Including substances like phytoestrogen, green tea, pine bark extract, and different vitamins into your diet can have a positive effect on your symptoms and wellbeing.
Please remember to see your doctor and attend annual checkups as you go through menopause. It is also important to tell your doctor about any supplements you decide to take. Combine these natural strategies with a healthy lifestyle, and you will be able to feel strong, healthy, and empowered during your menopause!
Andrea, M.D is from Valencia, Venezuela. She is passionate about sexual health and education, and public health and global health. Additionally, she enjoys researching and learning about beauty, skincare, and cosmetic innovations. She has also volunteered in several NGOs in Venezuela. In her free time, Andrea enjoys reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, making desserts for her family, going to the beach, and spending time with her dog, Dorito.