Living With Menopause
Menopause is often an uncomfortable period of a woman’s life. Starting as early as age 40, symptoms include hot flashes, discomfort, and irritation. Occurring in 3 stages, many of the symptoms peaks during the middle phase. Natural methods for relieving these symptoms can be used in place of medication.
What is menopause?
Menopause occurs in women typically over the age of 40 and signals the end of menstruation. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. Eventually, ovulation stops altogether.
A woman must not have a period for 12 months before being diagnosed with menopause. Premature menopause occurs in women younger than 40. Menopause is a natural process. Conditions such as a hysterectomy or premature ovarian failure can cause menopause to start early. Menopause occurs in 3 stages.
Stage #1: Perimenopause
During perimenopause estrogen production begins to decrease. Perimenopause can last several years.
Stage #2: Menopause
During menopause, the woman has not had a menstrual cycle for one year. The ovaries are no longer producing estrogen. Ovulation has stopped completely. Many of the uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, peak during menopause.
Stage #3: Postmenopause
During postmenopause, many of the menopausal symptoms begin to decline. As the woman ages and loss of estrogen takes effect, health conditions can arise.
Symptoms of menopause
Hormonal changes often cause changes to the vasomotor center of the brain. The vasomotor center controls blood pressure. Any changes in blood pressure can lead to hot flashes and night sweats. The most well-known symptom, and generally the first indicator of menopause, is hot flashes. Additional symptoms include insomnia, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, joint or muscle aches, low libido, missed periods, and vaginal dryness. Some women may experience all these symptoms and other women only one or two.
Is relief possible without medication?
Relief is possible through more natural methods. Many herbs and nutrients are used to treat menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh, licorice root, and dong quai are herbs used to treat abnormal cycles, inflammation, painful cramping, and hot flashes. Trans-resveratrol is similar to estrogen and used to treat hormonal imbalances, pain, and inflammation. Gamma oryzanol is a lipid used to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Menopause can last for years with symptoms ranging from minor to severe. In some cases, the symptoms can completely disrupt daily life. Medication can help, but relief is possible through natural methods such as supplements. Patients should speak with a healthcare provider or pharmacist for menopause treatment options and supplements.