What is menopause?
It may surprise you to hear the answer to that question. Menopause is the 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. During the time leading up to having her last period, a woman will probably experience symptoms like hot flashes, change in mood or trouble sleeping. This phase is perimenopause, or menopausal transition.
What are the symptoms of menopause or perimenopause?
Not all women experience this phase of life in the same way. Some women may experience little to no symptoms and only realize menopause has started when they don’t have a period. Others are not as fortunate. The list below is not a complete list of all possible symptoms. You know your body and if something isn’t quite right. If you have symptoms that are concerning you, see your doctor.
|Body Odor Changes||Headaches||Osteoporosis|
|Brittle Nails||Hot Flashes||Sexual Discomfort|
|Brain Fog||Irregular Periods||Sleeplessness|
|Depression||Joint Pain||Thinning Hair|
|Dizziness||Libido changes||Tingling in Extremities|
|Dry and Itchy Skin||Loss of Breast Fullness||Vaginal Dryness|
|Dry Mouth||Mood changes||Weight Gain|
Are there natural remedies for perimenopause symptoms?
In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, many women look for natural ways to get some relief from menopause symptoms. There is not a one size fits all type of herbal remedy. Each woman has a unique set of symptoms so they need an individual care plan.
Always talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine. You may be on a medication that will conflict with certain herbal remedies.
Hot flashes often have triggers like certain foods. Try to learn and avoid those triggers. Night sweats are also hot flashes but happen while we sleep. Consider sleeping in a cooler room or sleeping with layers you can remove if you become overheated.
There are some more obvious steps you can take like drinking cold water, splashing cool water on your face, and sitting near a fan help reduce hot flashes. Alcohol and spicy foods may bring on a hot flash, so avoiding those is a smart idea.
Consider wearing layers. That may seem counterintuitive but being able to remove a layer of clothing may help limit the severity and length of a hot flash.
Don’t smoke cigarettes. The toxins in tobacco appear to affect estrogen circulating in the body. If a woman has smoked over 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, she will be 26% more likely to enter menopause before age 50.
Obesity is a factor to consider when dealing with hot flashes. Studies have found that women that are overweight experience more severe and frequent episodes.
Stress releases epinephrine that increases your body temperature. Finding a technique that helps to reduce your stress and calm your mind helps. Look into relaxation breathing, meditation or yoga.
Black cohosh is a supplement made from the plant’s root. Some studies have found that it helps with hot flashes while other studies could not find a significant change. The difference between them may be the dosages used, severity of symptoms and ethnicity. Do not take black cohosh if you have any liver issues. There have been cases of liver damage reported in connection with this supplement.
Licorice root has been found to reduce severity and frequency of hot flashes. Women in one study were given 3 capsules a day with 330 mg of licorice extract in each. Not only did the supplements help while using but the positive effects continued for up to four weeks after discontinuing usage.
Valerian root capsules were taken three times a day for eight weeks to women in a study that found it did help with hot flashes. The capsules contained 225 mg of valerian. Both severity and frequency improvements were reported.
During the perimenopause and menopause phases, women have reported problems with getting a good night’s sleep. For most women seven to eight hours of sleep is a healthy amount. Some people need more or less to feel rested. If the number of restful sleep hours decreases during this phase of life, there may be an underlying cause.
Sleep apnea is often left undiagnosed because women tend to shrug off the lack of sleep to the time of life they are in. Losing reproductive hormones may bring on various sleep disorders. According to Grace Pien, M.D., M.S.C.E., with John Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, “Postmenopausal women are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea compared with premenopausal women.”
If you are concerned about sleep apnea, talk to your doctor and share your symptoms. There are sleep studies that can determine if you are suffering from it. If apnea is found you may need to use a night time sleep device called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.
Again, meditation, relaxation breathing and yoga all help us sleep better. A national survey discovered that 55% of yoga participants reported better sleep after starting yoga. There are many apps you can download to help you learn ways to use relaxation breathing techniques.
Anyone that suffers from sleepless nights can benefit from exercise. Be careful how close to bedtime you workout though. Exercise releases endorphins and raises your body temperature, which may actually keep you awake.
There are many supplements on the market that are designed to help us sleep better. Some seem to work better than others. That is likely because our bodies and reasons for lack of sleep are different. The most commonly known is melatonin. According to Cleveland Clinic the recommended dosage ranges from 0.5 mg to 3 mg.
Women that experience hot flashes or night sweats have increased sleeping problems. Create a consistent bedtime routine that includes breathing and calming techniques. Lower the room temperature. Keep a fan in your bedroom to cool things down when you need it. Consider buying a water bottle that keeps it cool through the night. If you awaken due to overheating, drink some cold water to help cool yourself down.
There are many pillows and linens in the marketplace that claim to cool you down while you sleep. It is hard to pinpoint which one works best for you because we are all different. A cool cloth around your neck is one way to lower your temperature so a cool pillow is likely to do the same.
Enjoy a glass of tart cherry juice before bed. Tart cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin. It also prevents the breakdown of tryptophan. One study found that participants who drank tart cherry juice had 84 more minutes of quality sleep.
Everyone experiences brain fog from time-to-time. The problem comes when it hangs around and makes living life difficult. Many women experience it during the menopause phase of life.
One highly effective way to combat brain fog is sleep. Lack of sleep leads to a long list of potential problems. Confusion, memory loss, lack of concentration, depression and anxiety are just a few. To reach your optimal performance, you really need to make sleep a priority.
Look at the foods you are eating and when. If you have an undiagnosed food allergy, brain fog may be one sign. Wheat and dairy products are just two that may cause an episode of brain fog. Also consider eating certain foods later in the day. Chamomile tea, turkey, tart cherry juice, fatty fish and others help induce a state of sleep.
Enjoy a walk around the block and soak up some sun rays. This will help your body product vitamin D, which helps with concentration. Better yet, explore nature. It has been discovered that enjoying nature actually improves your short-term memory by 20% versus a walk through an urban area.
Adaptogens help counteract stress in your body. Stress clearly impacts many aspects of your health. Concentration is high on the list of problems it creates. Adaptogens can also combat fatigue. As we discussed above, being tired brings on brain fog.
American ginseng improves working memory. Participants in a study took 100 mg per day. When purchasing make sure you read the labels and look for American ginseng versus others.
Ashwagandha is a wonderful adaptogen for combating stress and anxiety. We have used it for generations as part of the natural medicine cabinet. Study participants that took 300 mg of a high-concentration full spectrum extract reported a significant reduction in stress and anxiety.
Turmeric contains powerful medicinal properties. Lately, we are hearing more and more about the benefits of turmeric curcumin. When you look for an extract take the time to find one with black pepper. Our bodies absorb turmeric far better when the black pepper is added.
Vitamin D helps produce serotonin and dopamine. Our bodies use these two essential compounds to reduce stress and create a happier overall feeling. When you improve your mood, your brain is also happier and functions better.
Recommended Reading: Brain Fog and 8 Natural Remedies
Every woman is different. Every person is unique. There is no one remedy for everyone. You might need to experiment to find the best combination of lifestyle changes to decrease your menopause symptoms. Take a stroll through the local park and reflect on your current lifestyle. Are they any obvious changes you need to make?
Maybe you need more sleep or lose weight. You could just need a simple vitamin D supplement. If you decide there are more than just a couple changes to make, then work on them one or two at a time. Becoming overwhelmed by these adjustments will not help your situation.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. This is a new phase in your life and all phases take time to adjust to. Remember, they all end and a new chapter of your life begins. You will conquer menopause to find a new and happier self.
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