How Menopause May Not Be To Blame For Whats Happening To Us
Theres no one size fits all when it comes to managing everything. Taking a more natural approach in managing menopause is more complicated basically because no two women have the same menopause.
It might also be headaches, fatigue, or weight management. Theres lots of stuff that can happen and the symptoms are many and varied. I always think getting blood sugar balance right is absolutely the first thing to do because that is the sort of underlying thing that will then at least make sure youre not producing excess stress hormones.
If there are other external factors out there affecting you, then blood sugar balance is only one part of the picture. You would need to start looking at how youre managing your time, what the principal sources of stress in your life are and what you can actually do about stepping back from them and perhaps not putting yourself under so much pressure.
With all these different symptoms, there are different things you can do because addressing issues like aching joints or headaches is going to be a different pathway in the body compared to addressing something like anxiety or hot flushes.
You need to look at some of those other basics just to make sure youve dealt with those, because a lot of the time, theres other stuff going on.
Getting Magnesium Calcium And Iron From Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are a massive one stop shop for menopause friendly nutrients. By leafy greens, Im thinking things like spinach, rocket, watercress, and cabbage.
At a push, though not very leafy, broccoli is brilliant too. The reason for that is its a fabulous source of magnesium, which is my all-round favorite mineral.
Magnesium calms the nervous system which makes you more resilient, regulates the bodys response to stress so that youre better equipped to deal with the challenges of daily life.
It manages and supports the adrenals and also helps with tired aching muscles and that twitchy eyelid which is a classic sign of magnesium deficiency. You need magnesium for the absorption of calcium, which we need for strong bones.
Leafy greens are also a surprisingly good source of calcium, probably about twice as much per hundred grams as milk. They contain iron which is great for any perimenopausal women who perhaps are starting to have iron depletion.
A couple of handfuls of leafy greens every day and lots of protein would be a great way to start.
Ask Yourself The Following Questions:
- What is the treatment?
- What are the side effects?
- Is it effective?
- How much does it cost?
Once you answer these questions, discuss the therapy with your doctor. Make sure your doctor knows what therapy you are considering in order to discuss possible interactions or side effects with your current treatment.
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Six Ways To Treat Menopause Symptoms Without Taking Hrt
If you dont want to or cant take HRT for some reason, there are other ways to help ease unwanted menopause side-effects.
Lots of women experience symptoms due to menopause, many of which can be very unpleasant.
Caused by fluctuating and lower levels of oestrogen as the ovaries stop producing eggs, these can include hot flushes and night sweats, sleep difficulties, musculo-skeletal problems, mood changes, uro-genital symptoms and sexual issues.
Thankfully though, there are lots of things that can help. One of the most obvious treatments for menopause are conventional hormone replacement therapies . The best thing to do is discuss your symptoms and options with your own doctor, as managing menopause can be a very personal thing.
However, for women who chose not to pursue HRT, or those unable to because of their medical history, there are other things to think about.
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Haitham Hamoda, chair of the British Menopause Society, says: Hormone replacement therapy is the most commonly-prescribed treatment for menopausal symptoms, but this form of therapy is not suitable for some women, such as those with a history of breast cancer. A number of lifestyle changes, non-prescribed treatments and prescribed treatments are available to women experiencing various symptoms of the menopause.
If symptoms are stopping women from carrying on with their normal life, they should talk to their GP or call NHS 111, he adds.
Does Food Play A Role
Some have suggested that menopause was much easier for Asian women than for Westernersat least while women followed traditional, mostly plant-based diets. Hot flashes have been reported by only about 10 percent of women in China,1 17.6 percent of women in Singapore,2 and 22.1 percent of women in Japan.3 In contrast, it is estimated that hot flashes are experienced by 75 percent of women over the age of 50 in the United States.4 Whether these differences might be partly due to reluctance in reporting symptoms among Asians is not entirely clear. And as Asias diets gradually westernize, these differences are likely to disappear anyway.
But we do know that, throughout their lives, Western women consume much more meat, and about four times as much fat, as women on traditional Asian rice-based diets, and only one-quarter to one-half the fiber. For reasons that have never been completely clear, a high-fat, low-fiber diet causes a rise in estrogen levels. Women on higher-fat diets have measurably more estrogen activity than do those on low-fat diets. At menopause, the ovaries production of estrogen comes to a halt. Those women who have been on high-fat diets then have a dramatic drop in estrogen levels. The drop appears to be less dramatic for Asian women who have lower levels of estrogen both before and after menopause. The resulting symptoms are much milder or even nonexistent.
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The Massive Importance Of Diet And Lifestyle In Midlife And Beyond
As a nutritional therapist, I see the huge impact diet and lifestyle has. The reason I really wanted to put the book out there was to show women there are ways of managing things naturally. During your early forties, youre laying the groundwork for your health through menopause and beyond, and it can make a material difference to the severity and the length of your symptoms.
The degree of severity of our menopause experience can also be dictated by how weve lived our life in the past. Past health can catch up with us. All those things that we could do in our past, the body just doesnt want to do it anymore.
In our twenties, were relatively indestructible and suddenly around age 29, its like a switch has flipped and you cant quite be as fresh as a daisy after an all-nighter and all those other things.
Hrt Is Not A Quick Solution And Still Needs A Good Diet For The Best Support
Its all about knowing what the right thing is. Whats super important to realize is that HRT is not the quick fix. You still have to have the right diet and lifestyle for it to work effectively.
It is important to realize that you need to find a way of being the best version of yourself as you move through midlife and beyond, because we dont just want to live longer, we want to live healthier and better because theres no point in living long and not being able to do anything you want to do.
Considering diet and lifestyle and how it can support you is really important. HRT on its own, plus a bad diet can help a bit, but I can guarantee you, youll feel way better if you do HRT and a really good diet or you just do a really good diet depending on where your decisions lie. HRT plus a bad diet, doesnt make you feel great.
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Q: Can You Talk More About Hrt
A: A lot of the beliefs that people have about HRT come from medications that we no longer use. Weve evolved and shifted the types of hormones that are used in those medications, and theyre prescribed a little bit differently. For example, we used to give estrogen orally and now itâs through the skin.
As far as some of the risks that go with HRT, when its done orally versus delivering estrogen through the skin or topically, that really changes the safety profile of estrogen.
Were being more proactive about HRT than we had been in the past, meaning that most of the research in the past was done in much older women, in their mid sixties.
So lets say that you stopped your period at 50 and we did nothing for you. And then at 65, we put you on HRT. Youve accumulated 15 years of estrogen deficiency. As far as your cardiovascular health goes, breast tissue changes, and now we add hormones back in, thats like giving hormones to someone whos never had estrogen. And it definitely has some negative implications.
We now know that we need to catch women before they turn menopausal. We probably should be giving women HRT when theyre 48. Or 49 to 51 catching them in this window of time where they still make a little bit of their own hormone, but were topping them up so that they never have to have any risks developed by having no estrogen. Which is what happens if we do nothing for 10 years and then try and treat you.
How To Manage Hrt Provision Without Face To Face Consultations During Covid
In response to the COVID-19 healthcare restrictions, the use of telephone and virtual consultation was endorsed by the BMS, FSRH and RCOG in March 2020. The Primary Care Womens Health Forum has produced this guide for primary care practitioners in order to provide support for HRT provision during this time. Endorsed by the British Menopause Society, this guide includes menopause management checklist tools designed for remote consultations in primary care.
This resource was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Besins, MSD, Pfizer, Theramex, Gedeon Richter and Mylan.
Not yet a member?
Primary Care Womens Health Forum
VAT no: 360 8980 70
The Primary Care Womens Health Forum intends to collaborate with organisations who have an interest in improving standards in womens health. These organisations can include societies, charities, commercial companies and the government. Before initiating a collaboration the PCWHF board will ensure that it will act in the best interest of its members and the public.
The funding generated by membership is not always sufficient to provide the resources needed to maximise education on womens health and therefore the financial contribution made by corporate sponsors supports the yearly educational programme to be accessible to all its members. However, the PCWHF has a policy of being transparent regarding funding received from the pharmaceutical industry.
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Are There Natural Alternatives To Hrt
HRT is regularly prescribed to women to help manage the symptoms of the menopause.
The menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, when a womans body no longer produces enough oestrogen and progesterone to release an egg and menstrual periods come to an end. Its these fluctuations in hormone levels that can cause unpleasant symptoms like mood swings, hot flushes and joint pain.
HRT has been shown to help alleviate these symptoms by boosting the levels of female sex hormones in the body but whilst many women have found HRT helpful, it isnt suitable for everyone, and there are risks to taking it .
HRT isnt recommended for women with a history of breast cancer because oestrogen promotes the growth of breast cells. Some studies have also linked HRT to an increased risk of breast, womb and ovarian cancer, though this increased risk is small compared to many lifestyle risk factors like smoking and obesity.
So are there any natural alternatives for women who either cant undertake, or dont want to undertake, HRT?
The Physiological Stress We Can Put On Our Bodies Through Diet And Lifestyle
Weve allowed ourselves to get suckered into having quite a processed diet. The combination of processed foods, lots of stress, alcohol and caffeine, all come together to put the body under a lot of physiological stress so it comes back to stress again.
Stress comes in many guises. Its not just having a rubbish day at work. It can affect your psychological stress, emotional stress, and then the physiological stress within the body.
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Nonhormonal Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
This information sheet is intended for medical practitioners and nurses to help provide information to their patients.
Women sometimes seek alternative treatments for the symptoms of menopause if they have not found relief with lifestyle changes or their hormone replacement therapy does not work. Some may be advised against hormones because of a medical condition and others want to avoid them after hearing about health risks. This pamphlet includes summaries of studies of treatments prescribed by doctors “off-label” for relief of menopausal symptoms. Off-label means use outside the specific purpose for which the drug was approved by Australia’s medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Doctors prescribing off-label have a responsibility to be well-informed about the product and base its use on scientific evidence.
The Importance Of Maintaining Stable Blood Sugar Levels
As the ovaries stop producing estrogen, our adrenal glands take over that job, so were not just left hanging. The bodys a really high-performance machine and it has a plan for us post menopause.
The problem is, the adrenal glands also produce our stress response. Because the stress hormones are our fight or flight response, generating cortisol and adrenaline is essentially lifesaving, so the body will prioritize that.
If youre in a constant state of chronic stress, instead of producing the small amounts of estrogen post-menopause to keep things on track, your bodys just too busy producing the stress hormones.
What we need to do then is look at how nutrition can make a big difference to that. The nutrition 101 when it comes to stress management, is blood sugar, because basically every time your blood sugar crashes, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline. Its dangerous for us not to have enough sugar in the blood because its our primary source of energy.
When your blood sugar crashes, out come the stress hormones. They want to redress the balance. They will then drive cravings for sugary food, refined carbohydrate, also some form of stimulant, like a cup of coffee or a glass of wine depending on the time of day.
The end result will be that youll stuff something in, and then instead of going back to where your blood sugar should be, in that nice level band, itll spike.
Q: What Led You To Where You Are Today How Did You Become A Naturopath And What Is Your Focus On Really Being Heavy Into The Research And Data Driven Clinical Work
A: My background is actually in what we call critical appraisal, meaning, how do we dissect a problem, learn, like, think about the research that we know about that problem, and then come up with solutions.
I always say my undergraduate was in personal development. I learned time management and communication and leadership skills and critical appraisal, which is basically trying to figure out if the research thats published on something is accurate and how we would use that information to help people make decisions.
That was my training and I went to naturopathic medicine with my interest being in preventative care and nutrition and exercise. I felt like I would be more like myself if I could hang out in that realm of medicine rather than working in a hospital setting.
I also decided to pursue naturopathic medicine right around the time that my grandfather passed away from cancer. Watching my grandpa move through conventional care with his cancer diagnosis, which was misdiagnosed just long enough that it became terminal for him, I chose a different path rather than going down the medicine route naturopathic medicine.
When I graduated, still having this very evidence-based mindset, I wanted to work in the field of medicine where I knew I could have the greatest impact and that their research was really pointing towards an integrative solution, actually being the best solution.
How Rachel Used Dietary Changes To Reverse Her Early Menopause Diagnosis
Im convinced stress caused my diagnosis of early menopause at 41. Id crossed countries, got divorced, was a single parent, an executive. I had an au pair, thank goodness. But I had to earn the money to have the au pair and pay the mortgage, because it was just me. The early menopause happened when I actually left work and went freelance. I was in a new relationship, but then it was like going on holiday, my body just went, boom, cant do this anymore.
I went to see a nutritionist and was advised to work on getting my blood sugar levels consistent during the day. I knew nothing about this. I was also given a tincture with things like agnus castus, but the main thing was getting my diet sorted, stripping out anything bad and being consistent with the blood sugar levels. And then I got my periods back! That was incredible!
I got them back for about nine months. It didnt carry on. And it may well have been because I didnt keep up the regime. My body went back to what it was planning to do, I suppose. But if I had been consistent, who knows, I might have carried on having periods for more years.
Thats, that really showed me how much control we actually have over our hormonal balance.
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