Treatments For Symptoms of Menopause
While some women are able to undergo menopause without incident, most will experience some combination of all 34 menopause symptoms. In fact, up to 70% of women experience menopause symptoms. The duration varies; for many women the symptoms of menopause cease after the occurrence of menopause (typically in the mid to late 50's), yet other women will continue experiencing them well into old age. Though these menopause symptoms may be unpleasant, it is important to remember that menopause, rather than being an illness, is a natural, normal change in a woman’s body.
Fortunately, as menopause symptoms are a consequence of fluctuations in hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone levels, it is possible to come up with a menopause treatment for this imbalance. Though it used to be "in vogue" to prescribe hormone replacement therapy as a menopause treatment for this fundamental imbalance, persistent links to breast and ovarian cancer, along with heart disease and blood clots, have caused most healthcare professionals to rethink this drastic menopause treatment option.
Many agree that the most effective treatment for menopause is to combine a few changes in lifestyle with alternative menopause treatment options.
There are 3 approaches to treating menopause symptoms – Lifestyle Changes, Alternative Medicine, and Drugs & Surgery.
This primary level of menopause treatment involves the least amount of risk, though conversely it requires the highest amount of self discipline. Many times some simple changes in lifestyle can reap huge benefits in fighting menopausal symptoms such as:
- Avoid caffeine / alcohol
- Sleep 7-8 hours per night
- Take Vitamins B, C, D, E
- Practice breathing exercise
- Eat a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Stay hydrated
Studies have shown that diets rich in foods that promote estrogen levels (such as soy, apples, alfalfa, cherries, potatoes, rice, wheat and yams) are great menopause treatments.
Alternative approaches involve little to no risk and can be an extremely effective way to treat all 34 menopause symptoms. This level of approach can involve several different therapies. Herbal supplements are the most prominent though, in addition, women may turn to such menopause treatments as acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, aromatherapy, or hypnosis. All of these treatments can be valid and effective, though most women find that herbal supplements are the easiest menopause treatment to follow, as the other menopause treatments require a greater time and monetary commitment. In addition, herbal supplements are the only viable option to treat the hormonal imbalance directly at its source.
In the case of herbal supplements, there are two types of herbs that can be used for treating menopause symptoms: phytoestrogenic and non-estrogenic herbs.
Phytoestrogenic herbs (e.g. Black Cohosh) contain estrogenic components produced by plants. These herbs, at first, provide a menopause treatment for hormonal imbalance by introducing these plant-based estrogens into the body. However, as this menopause treatment adds outside hormones, a woman’s body may become less capable of producing estrogen on its own. This causes a further decrease of body-own hormone levels.
By contrast, non-estrogenic herbs, as the name suggests, don't contain any estrogen. These herbs provide the menopause treatment of stimulating a woman’s hormone production by nourishing the pituitary and endocrine glands, causing them to more efficiently produce natural hormones. This menopause treatment ultimately results in balancing not only estrogen, but also progesterone and testosterone. Non-estrogenic herbs can be considered the safest way to treat menopause symptoms naturally as the body creates its own hormones and doesn’t require any outside assistance.
A combination of approaches is usually the most effective route to take. Lifestyle changes combined with alternative medicine will most likely be the best treatment for menopause. However, for some women the symptoms will be so severe that a more drastic treatment is necessary. In taking the leap into pharmaceutical options, side effects are inevitable, yet sometimes menopause treatment can be worth it if the benefits will outweigh the risks.
Drugs & Surgery
Interventions at the third level of menopause treatment involve the highest risk and often the highest costs. The most common drug therapy for treating menopause symptoms in the US is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This may be a quick and strong menopause treatment that combats hormonal imbalance; but, unfortunately, it entails serious side effects and increases the risk of different types of cancer among women, as the following study has proven.
If symptoms are at the level of severity that a woman is still considering this final option of menopause treatment, it is wise to speak to a healthcare professional for guidance.
These three levels of menopause treatments are not mutually exclusive. A woman may use different menopause treatments at different times or any combination of them, depending on the duration and severity of symptoms. Today more and more women find that dealing with menopause symptoms is best accomplished via a combination of healthy lifestyle and alternative treatments.