Menopause Symptoms – How To Get Through It And Keep Your Sanity!

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What is menopause and what are the menopause symptoms that a woman will notice when this female phenomenon occurs? Most importantly, what are the remedies and products that a woman can look into to alleviate some of the symptoms?

Menopause is a natural development in women as they age that occurs at the end of their reproductive cycle. It’s not a disease or a problem that has to be solved. It’s Nature’s way to allow our bodies to continue in the aging process which would also end the child-bearing phase of a woman’s life.

Some women have a very easy time of menopause and, other than their periods ceasing, have almost no other obvious symptoms that have become apparent in this phase of their female reproductive cycle. However, most women are not so fortunate.

Just as some teenage girls have light and virtually pain-free periods, many young girls have to lose some days from school due to severe cramps or heavy bleeding during their periods. I don’t know if there is a correlation between difficult periods when they’re young and then later on having a tough time during menopause. That’s a study for another time.

Personally, both were difficult for me and other females in my family. The periods were hard, and I did lose school days. But, later in my 20’s and 30’s, the periods were less uncomfortable and were merely a monthly female activity that was accepted as part of my reproductive cycle.

Then in my early 40’s, I knew my body was changing and was experiencing a different phase of femininity. The symptoms that I could attribute to perimenopause were an irregularity in my periods, less severe periods, and some changes in my body barometer which I didn’t understand at the time. This was the most distressing symptom of all – hot flashes and night sweats!

I had full-blown menopause symptoms at approximately 44 years old and lasted until approximately 60 years old. During that time, in retrospect, I may not have always been the sweet, loving person that I am!  LOL! Oh, I feel sorry for some of the people who were closest to me in those days. Does an apology now count?

The worst symptom that stands out in my memory is the hot flashes day and night. During the day, I could feel my whole body flush, and my face and exposed upper body would become beet red. Others near me said they could feel the heat emanating from my body. It was embarrassing and very distressing.

At night, sleeping was so uncomfortable. It was hard to get comfortable and to relax my mind, and when the hot flashes occurred at night, it was awful. Covers on covers off – wake up sweaty and have to change clothes sometimes.

menopause symptoms hot flashesI felt at the time of menopause that it was never going to end! The good news is that it does – finally! – but none too soon!

A woman experiences three main phases of their reproductive life:

  • The years of active reproduction/fertility
  • The menopausal years (including perimenopause)
  • And the postmenopause years

Perimenopause symptoms are similar symptoms as a woman experiences during menopause but she is not yet in menopause. She is still having her periods, although they may begin to be irregular periods, while she is noticing menopausal symptoms. These may include mild depression or mood swings, hot flashes, headaches, unexplained weight gain, hair loss, and skin dryness.

Perimenopause can occur as early as 8 to 10 years prior to actual menopause and is due to the ovaries producing less estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in the body. She is still able to become pregnant.

This phase usually lasts for four years but could last for as long as ten years before menopause.

Menopause usually occurs in women in their 40’s or 50’s and occurs when the ovaries have stopped producing any estrogen at all. The ovaries no longer produce an egg to travel down the Fallopian tubes, and thus menopause has begun.

Younger women who have had surgical procedures done such as removal of ovaries or have had damage to the ovaries from Chemotherapy, for instance, can experience immediate symptoms for full-blown menopause. When a woman has not had a period for 12 months, she is diagnosed as officially being in menopause.

Here is some helpful information according to a post by the Cleveland Clinic:

What are menopause symptoms?

You may be transitioning into menopause if you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Hot flashes (a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the body)
  • Night sweats and/or cold flashes
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
  • Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, mild depression)
  • Dry skin, eyes or mouth

Women who are still in the menopause transition (perimenopause) may also experience:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Irregular periods or skipping periods
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual

Some women might also experience:

  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Changes in libido (sex drive)
  • Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses (often temporary)
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss or thinning

These symptoms can be a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen. Not all women get all of these symptoms. However, women affected with new symptoms of racing heart, urinary changes, headaches, or other new medical problems should see a doctor to make sure there is no other cause for these symptoms.

What Does Dr. Axe Say About Menopause?

My go-to person online for health questions is most usually Dr. Axe. I like how he explains medical issues in layman’s terms, and I think you will benefit most by quoting him for this complicated subject. There is an awful lot going on in a woman’s body at this time of her life, and I might leave out something that is pertinent to you by extrapolating his valuable information.

So, the following is taken from DrAxe.com:

“Natural Treatment for Menopause

1. Eat Foods that Help Manage Menopause Symptoms

When trying to balance hormones and reduce menopause symptoms, your diet should include plenty of essential minerals and healthy fats. Filling up on the following foods which are “hormone-balancing,” nutrient-dense and unprocessed can help you eliminate your intake of empty calories and manage weight gain.

Keep in mind that you might need to consume fewer calories overall in order to maintain your weight as you get older. Due to a decrease in muscle mass and the slowing of your metabolism, it’s more important than ever to limit processed foods and focus on eating a clean diet.

Foods that can help manage menopause symptoms include:

  • Organic fruits and vegetables: These contain dietary fiber to manage your appetite, antioxidants to slow the aging process and phytosterols that can help balance hormones.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables in the cruciferous family such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale contain indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen levels.  These veggies are also high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and electrolytes that are important for blood pressure and heart health.
  • High-fiber foods: Fiber is important for cardiovascular and digestive health, plus maintaining a healthy weight. Some studies have even found that diets higher in fiber might help to balance the production of estrogen.  High-fiber diets are associated with less weight gain, healthier cholesterol levels, and reduced constipation. Some of the best sources include nuts, seeds, legumes/beans, ancient grains, avocado, veggies, and fruit.
  • Natto: Fermented soy like natto contains a phytoestrogen that can help balance hormones. However, avoid this if you have had estrogen-positive breast cancer in the past.
  • Phytoestrogen foods: Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens that can mimic the effects of natural hormones your body produces. Their effects are controversial, so the research on their benefits or risks can seem overwhelming and conflicting. However, a large variety of studies have proved these dietary estrogens actually help some women during menopause by reducing cancer risk, reducing night flashes, protecting the heart and making a decrease in natural estrogen feel less drastic.
  • Omega-3 fats: Omega-3 fats from fish and flaxseed can protect the heart, promote smooth skin and help to counteract inflammation from omega-6 fats (found mostly in refined oils and low-quality meat). Some of the best sources include wild-caught salmon, halibut, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Studies show that frequently consuming omega-3s facilitates in hormone production and might help to prevent preeclampsia, postpartum depression, menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, heart complications, depression, and breast cancer.
  • Healthy fats and cold-pressed oils: It’s true that fats have more calories than protein or carbohydrates do, but they are also the building blocks for hormone production, keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote satiety that is important for preventing weight gain. Unrefined oils provide essential vitamin E that helps regulate estrogen production. Look for virgin coconut oil, palm oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and flaxseed oil. Other sources of healthy fats include avocado, coconut milk, nuts, seeds, and wild seafood.
  • Probiotic foods: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin, and leptin. They’re even capable of raising immune function and protecting cognitive functioning. The best sources include yogurt, kefir, cultured veggies such as sauerkraut or kimchi, kombucha, and other fermented foods.
  • Water: Aim for 8 glasses daily to help replace fluid lost from hot flashes and to decrease bloating.

2. Avoid Foods that Make Menopause Worse

  • Packaged foods: The No. 1 food to avoid during menopause? Packaged foods. The majority of processed/packaged foods contain added sugar (see below), chemical preservatives, high amounts of sodium, toxins and synthetic additives. Many of these foods are typically high in carbohydrates that can cause worsened hormone imbalances and may contain GMO ingredients that are toxic to the liver.
  • Conventional meat: Conventional (farm-raised) neat or poultry may contain added hormones that can cause problems, including increased inflammation. Make sure to choose hormone-free, grass-fed, cage-free or pasture-raised animal proteins whenever possible. Buying organic meat, eggs, dairy, and poultry is another layer of protection that ensures that you won’t be consuming antibiotics, GMO-fed meat, and added hormones.
  • Added sugar: High intake of added sugar can cause weight gain, digestive issues, worsened hormone imbalances and candida, increasing hot flashes and other symptoms.
  • Refined oils and fried foods: Foods cooked in highly-processed vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, safflower, soybean or canola oil, for example) are high in omega-6 fats that can contribute to inflammation and other health problems. Fried foods and trans fats are also tied to heart problems, weight gain, diabetes, and cognitive impairments.
  • Carbonated drinks: Carbonated soda or other drinks may be able to deplete the body of calcium and contribute to osteoporosis, bone loss, and teeth problems.
  • Alcohol: Many women find that drinking more than “moderate” amounts of alcohol can aggravate hot flashes and contribute to weight gain.

3. Take These Supplements for Menopause Relief

  • Black Cohosh (80 milligrams 1–2x daily): Can help prevent menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats. Research shows it might also help improve sleep quality, reduce hormonal imbalances tied to diabetes or fibroids, and even help women with fertility prior to menopause.
  • Natural Progesterone Cream (about ¼ teaspoon or 20 milligrams applied to the skin and forearms 2–3x daily): Progesterone cream is a natural way to reduce menopausal symptoms such as loss of bone density, vaginal dryness, and fibroids. It has many benefits even for younger women (those going through perimenopause, for example) including offering protection from infertility, endometriosis, and PMS. Using progesterone in topical cream form allows you to control and vary the amount of progesterone applied to your body with each use.
  • Vitex or Chasteberry (160–240 milligrams daily): Vitex has been clinically proven to relieve hot flashes. It also has many of the same hormone-balancing properties as black cohosh, helping to regulate hormones tied to sleep problems, fibroids, skin changes and irregular periods. Research shows that vitex increases luteinizing hormone modulates prolactin and aids in the inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone, which all helps balance out the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, slightly raising the levels of progesterone.
  • American Ginseng (600–1200 milligrams daily): For thousands of years, ginseng has been used to increase energy and sexual arousal. Some research suggests it can help relieve hot flashes, fatigue, depression and cognitive impairments, and vaginal dryness.
  • Red Clover: Can help prevent loss of bone density and lower risk for heart complications. Red clover contains isoflavones that have positive effects in reducing symptoms related to estrogen loss — such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, weight gain, bone loss, bone fractures or osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems, and inflammation of the joints.
  • St. John’s Wort: This herb has been safely used for over 2,000 years, often to lower anxiety, depression and sleep-related problems. It may be able to help to stabilize your mood, reduce inflammation, improve your sleep and make the emotional/mental transition through menopause a bit easier.
  • Maca Root (1000–2000 milligrams daily): As an adaptogen herb, maca has been used for thousands of years to lower the effects of stress and aging on the body by decreasing cortisol levels. It can help reduce hot flashes, low energy/fatigue, restlessness, and weight gain while improving libido and energy.
  • Adaptogen Herbs: These plants offer protection from a variety of diseases, including those caused by excess stress. Adaptogens include ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, Rhodiola and holy basil. Research shows they can help improve thyroid function, lower cholesterol, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce brain cell degeneration, and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels.

Although less commonly used at home on your own, other botanicals/herbs can also help manage symptoms including evening primrose oil, licorice root, wild yams, red raspberry leaves, chaste tree, and sarsaparilla. Each one has a specific symptom (or sometimes symptoms) that they are able to help treat, so it can be very helpful to talk with a trained naturopath doctor to help guide you into using proper dosages and combinations.

4. Reduce & Manage Stress

Many women experience increased anxiety, moodiness and even episodes of depression during the menopause years. Managing stress in your life is one important way to reduce behaviors or symptoms like emotional eating and weight gain, fatigue, getting poor sleep and low libido.

Different stress-reducing complimentary and alternative medicines work for different people. Some effective ways to relieve stress include exercise, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy, spending time in nature, fostering close relationships, volunteering and dedicating time to spiritual practices.

5. Use These Essential Oils for Managing Menopause Symptoms

Clary sage oil is the most effective essential oils for balancing hormones.It can help offer relief from menopause symptoms including increased anxiety and hot flashes.  In addition, roman chamomile oil reduces stress, peppermint oil can help cool the body from hot flashes, and thyme oil can help naturally balance hormones.

To use these essential oils at home, purchase a therapeutic grade/pure oil in stores or online, then rub 3 drops of the chosen oil on the tops of the feet and back of the neck 1–3 times daily. You can combine any essential oil with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil to dilute its strength and decrease skin sensitivity.

6. Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is important for managing several risk factors associated with menopause complications, including becoming overweight or obese, having high levels of inflammation, getting poor sleep, experiencing bone loss or muscle wasting, and dealing with chronic stress. Certain studies have found that even if you haven’t been very active in the past, starting an exercise routine consisting of aerobic and strength-training exercise training at least three times per week for 12 weeks can result in improvements in sleep quality, insomnia, and depression.

I recommend engaging in 10–30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week, including in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) such as burst training, This will strengthen your bones, help prevent weight gain and preserve lean muscle mass, which can lower the risk for osteoporosis and obesity.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Studies show that both excessive stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity, trouble with work performance, and a higher susceptibility to anxiety, weight gain, and depression. To allow your body to recover from stress, control your appetite and improve energy, aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

8. Turn to Social Support & Relationships

Comprehensive clinical trials have shown that lifestyle habits including regular exercise, sleep management, optimal nutrition, healthy relationships, social support, and relaxation can be effective as a “whole system approach” to treating menopause symptoms and other effects of aging.”

There is so much more that could be written here about menopause, symptoms, and remedies, etc.  If a particular facet of this subject is lacking, and you would like more specific information, please let me know. I will be happy to research for you.

As someone who has been post-menopausal for quite some time, I understand your discomfort you are probably experiencing if you are menopausal now. My words of wisdom and encouragement to you are that “this, too, shall pass”. It seemed like forever to me but is now just a memory, thank goodness!

3 COMMENTS

  1. WishGarden Herbal Extracts as Herbal Remedies - | 16th Nov 18

    […] Menopause Symptoms, Remedies – How To Get Through It And Keep Your Sanity! […]

  2. Denise | 12th Nov 18

    Great article Christine, thank you so much! I am in the full-blown phase of menopause and honestly I am really sick of dealing with it! It seems my entire body chemistry has changed completely and nothing is “normal.” I never thought I would wish for having my period back, but I would take it back in an instant if I were given the choice.
    The information you presented from Dr. Axe is great – there were a few things I had not read before. One thing that never fails to amaze me is how our bodies change and react to things so quickly. So, when I am having a particularly lousy day, I have to remind myself that tomorrow will be better, especially if I pay attention to doing things (like exercise and more sleep) and taking supplements. I am also now on a low dose of estrodial topical gel called Divigel (.25mg) and progesterone (100mg pill) which was prescribed by my doctor. This has helped tremendously although I’m hoping I don’t need it for a prolonged period of time.

    • Christine | 1st Dec 18

      Hi, Denise. I’m happy to hear that your doctor prescribed things that are actually helping you! Many times, with menopause, even the doctors have to go through a trial and error process because each body’s chemistry is so delicate, and meds may work for one but not for another. Our bodies are in a constant state of change, and mine in my older years continues to show me changes that I really don’t like to see, but we just have to roll with most of the changes. Many things we do still have in our control, such as what foods we put in our mouths and how much exercise and movement we put our bodies through each day. These are good things and are absolutely necessary if we want our bodies to carry us through as long and healthy life span as possible in the highest quality of life as possible. Remember, this, too, shall pass! Keep smiling!

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