Menopause And Complementary Therapies
Some women can benefit from using complementary therapies for menopause. But it is important to remember that natural herb and plant medications can have unpleasant side effects in some women, just like prescribed medications. A registered naturopath may provide long-term guidance and balance through the menopausal years.Herbal therapies can often be taken in conjunction with hormone therapy. It is important to let both your doctor and naturopath know exactly what each has prescribed, and to consult your doctor before taking any herbal treatments or dietary supplements for menopause. Some natural therapies can affect or interact with other medications you may be taking.
Toward A New Understanding Of Menopause
For thousands upon thousands of years, menopause was seen as a natural part of life. Then, beginning in about the 1960s, our society began to view it is an illness, a deficiency. More than hot flashes or weight gain, women fear losing vitality, losing femininity, and losing youth. But if we can look at menopause in a different way, then we may begin to move towards a new understanding of it, and a new acceptance.
Many healers have explored the connection between menopause and kundalini. Kundalini is energy that rests in the body. The word kundalini is Sanskrit for serpent-power and it is useful to picture this energy as a coiled snake or as energy that is sleeping. It rests at the base of the spine, waiting for us to awaken it and use its great potential. Perhaps a better way to think of it is as a heightened sense of awareness and consciousness. People who have awakened kundalini within themselves report experiencing increased clairvoyance, clarity, ecstasy, and transcendence. It is similar in concept to having a fully integrated seventh energy center, or crown chakra, and of having a great level of inner knowledge.
Feeling Positive About The Menopause
Women may experience physical and emotional changes during menopause but that doesnt mean life has taken a turn for the worse! Many women are prompted at this time to take stock of their lives and set new goals. The menopause occurs at a time when many women may be juggling roles as mothers of teenagers, as carers of elderly parents, and as members of the workforce. Experts suggest that creating some me time is important to maintain life balance. Menopause can be seen as a new beginning: its a good time to assess lifestyle, health and to make a commitment to strive for continuing wellness in the mature years.
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Contextual Differences In The Experience Of Menopause
Attitudes toward menopause differ by gender, and are influenced by many contextual factors, including the attitude and response of health care providers. Additionally, the way menopausal symptoms are experienced, and the preferred management approach to address symptoms differs widely by context.
Attitudes Toward Menopause
The way menopause is perceived and therefore experienced and managed depends to a large extent on the social and cultural context in which women live . Although research points to menopause as a physiological process, some people perceive it as a disease process, especially in settings where people are ill-informed about menopause and how and why it occurs.
Attitudes of Women Toward Menopause
In studies among women in West Bengal, India, and Bahrain, researchers found that postmenopausal women had a more positive attitude toward menopause than their perimenopausal counterparts . A majority of highly educated Asian female teachers residing in Pakistan reported a positive attitude toward menopause . A qualitative study conducted in Singapore also reported a generally positive attitude toward menopause . One study among women and their spouses in Turkey reported that, in general, both groups had a positive attitude toward menopause .
Attitudes of Men Toward Menopause
Attitudes of Providers
Common Symptoms Associated with Menopause
Management of Menopause
Estrogen And The Menstrual Cycle In Humans
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women and it functions during thereproductive menstrual cycle. Women have three major typesof estrogen: estrone, estradiol, and estriol, which bind to andactivate receptors within the body. Researchers discovered the threetypes of estrogen over a period of seven years, contributing to more detailed descriptions of the menstrual cycle. Each type of estrogenmolecule contains a slightly different arrangement or number of atomsthat in turn causes some of the estrogens to be moreactive than others. The different types of estrogen peak and wanethroughout womens reproductive cycles, from normal menstruation topregnancy to the cessation of menstruation . As scientistsbetter explained the effects of estrogens, they used that information to developoral contraceptives to control pregnancy, to map the menstrual cycle,and to create hormone therapies to regulate abnormal levels of estrogen.
Later, researchers used Doisys methods to create hormone therapiesfor women who lacked proper levels of estradiol. Researchers couldcause changes in the menstrual cycle, as they had the ability to givewomen estradiol, the most biologically active estrogenhormone thatpredominates during the menstrual cycle.
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Will My Hot Flashes Stop After Menopause
Some people still experience hot flashes after menopause. Postmenopausal hot flashes are caused by decreased estrogen levels. It is not uncommon to experience a random hot flash for years after menopause. If your hot flashes are bothersome or intensify, speak with your healthcare provider to rule out other causes.
How Will I Know When I Am Postmenopausal
Women are considered to be postmenopausal when they have not had their period for an entire year. Having your doctor measure your follicle stimulating hormone level is another way to see if you are near menopause. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland . Your FSH levels will dramatically rise as your ovaries begin to shut down these levels are easily checked through one blood test. FSH levels can fluctuate during perimenopause, so the only way to know you are definitely postmenopausal is when you have had no period for a year.
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Whats Considered A High Estradiol Level
Elevated estradiol levelsâtypically beyond 350 picograms per milliliter in adult women who have regular menstrual cyclesâcan occur with certain medical conditions that lead to overproduction of the estrogen hormone. Polycystic ovarian syndrome , in which there are many ovarian follicles simultaneously producing estradiol, is an example of how high estrogen levels can develop. Elevated levels of estradiol can also be the result of certain hormone supplements, liver disorders, or elevated levels of androgens .
Trouble Focusing And Learning
two-thirds of women may have difficulty with concentration and memory.
Keeping physically and mentally active, following a healthful diet, and maintaining an active social life can help with these issues. For example, some people benefit from finding a new hobby or joining a club or a local activity.
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What Is The Luteal Phase
The luteal phase is the post-ovulation phase of your menstrual cycle. The pre-ovulation phase of your ovarian cycle is the follicular phase.
The follicular phase is when follicles and develop in the fallopian tubes. Follicle development prepares an egg for ovulation.
After ovulation, the luteal phase starts. The follicle that contains the egg from the follicular phase turns into something called the corpus luteum. When the corpus luteum grows, your progesterone levels rise.
Progesterone peaks halfway through the luteal phase. The corpus luteum dissolves if there is no fertilized egg or implantation. This causes progesterone levels to drop .
The luteal phase ends when your period begins. The first day of your period is the first day of the follicular phase, and the cycle starts over again.
Relationship Between Serum Hormones And Cycle Types
We estimated associations of annual serum hormone concentrations with cycle type, again adjusting for participant characteristics in Table 2, and for day of menstrual cycle at the annual visits blood draw. Serum estradiol at the SWAN baseline examination has been strongly associated with time to the final menstrual period . We therefore tested the association of estradiol at baseline with cycle type by dividing estradiol into quintiles, ranging from less than 25 pg/ml to 100 pg/ml or higher . As seen in Fig. 5, estradiol exhibited a curvilinear association with anovulatory collections that did not end with a bleed but not with those that did end with a bleed. Both the lowest and the highest baseline estradiol categories were more likely to be anovulatory/nonbleeding collections than ovulatory cycles compared with the reference category of 5074.9 pg/ml. Interestingly, categorized estradiol from the concurrent core visit was not significantly related to cycle type after adjustment for other factors.
Adjusted OR for anovulation by baseline serum estradiol. The vertical line in the middle of the figure represents unity . The OR is shown as the middle of each horizontal line, with the outer limits representing the lower and upper CI.
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How Do You Know You’re In Postmenopause
Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you if you’re in postmenopause based on your symptoms and how long it’s been since your last menstrual period. In some cases, your healthcare provider will take a blood sample and check your hormone levels to confirm you’ve gone through menopause. Remember, you’re not considered to be through menopause until it’s been over one year since youve had a period.
Gaps In Knowledge And Future Directions
It has been difficult to distinguish between symptoms that result from loss of ovarian function and those from the aging process or from the socio-environmental stresses of midlife years. Symptoms which result from loss of ovarian function should resolve by hormone replacement, but it has not been found so. Further research is required in this direction.
Symptoms have variable onset in relation to menopause. Some women experience symptoms earlier during perimenopause while some experience them at a later time. When should treatment start is also an issue for debate.
As recent data from the WHI establish the risks of long-term HRT use, concern about using HRT, even as a short-term intervention, has increased substantially. Although HRT remains the first-line treatment for hot flushes, the WHI findings have drawn attention to nonhormonal treatments of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms. Growing evidence to support the efficacy of serotonergic antidepressants and other psychoactive medications in the treatment for hot flushes suggests that nonhormonal interventions will prove important alternatives to HRT. As further evidence of the benefits of psychoactive medications for menopausal symptoms is established, the choice between using hormonal and nonhormonal therapies for the management of menopausal symptoms will continue to evolve.
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Hormone Levels Fluctuate Leading To Menopause
As you approach menopause, the production of female hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down. Hormone levels tend to fluctuate, and you may notice changes in your menstrual cycle such as:
- period cycles may become longer, shorter or totally irregular
- bleeding may become lighter
- bleeding may become unpredictable and heavy .
Eventually, your hormone levels will fall to a point where your ovaries stop releasing eggs, your periods stop and menopause is reached.Although fertility after the age of 45 is low, you still need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. Its recommended to continue contraception until you have had one year without a natural period if youre over 50 years old, or two years without a natural period if youre under 50.
Biologic Consequences Of Menopause And The Menopause Transition
The brain is enriched with estrogen receptors, and estrogen receptor signaling is hypothesized to mediate multiple key processes in the central nervous system , including but not limited to neurotrophic effects and neuroprotection.3Menopause and advancing age both impose adverse effects on CNS function.
Human as well as nonhuman studies demonstrate sex differences in the structure and function of the hippocampus and the temporal lobe that are thought to be related to differences in the activational and organizational effects of estradiol on memory performance. Estrogen-mediated structural differences in the hypothalamus are hypothesized to translate into higher executive functioning in women. Consequently, anxiety and mood changes are more common in perimenopausal and recently menopausal women, especially in women who have a history of mood dysfunction.4,5 The hypogonadism of menopause may provide a reason for why perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women frequently complain of memory loss and the inability to focus. However, studies in menopausal women report conflicting results regarding the benefit of hormone therapy on attention and executive functions such as nonspatial and spatial working memory, as well as verbal memory.6 Moreover, many of these executive functions spontaneously recover within a few years of the menopause. Last, age-related changes in brain-derived steroids are hypothesized to account for the increased incidence of dementia.
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How Do I Manage Symptoms Of Postmenopause On My Own
Certain lifestyle or at-home changes can help you manage symptoms of postmenopause. Some of these include:
- Using a water-based vaginal lubricant during sex to make it more pleasurable. Lubricating the vagina helps with dryness and pain.
- Regular exercise, meditation and other relaxing activities can help with depression and other side effects of postmenopause.
- Eating a diet rich in phytoestrogens such as whole-grain cereals, flaxseed, chickpeas and legumes. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake has also been shown to help.
Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
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Vaginal Dryness And Discomfort
Vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort may start during perimenopause and continue into menopause. A person with any of these symptoms may experience chafing and discomfort during vaginal sex. Also, if the skin breaks, this can increase the risk of infection.
Various moisturizers, lubricants, and medications can relieve vaginal dryness and associated issues.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis isnt entirely preventable, but you can take steps to strengthen your bones. Eating foods high in calcium like cheese, yogurt, spinach or fortified cereals can help boost calcium intake. Adding a calcium supplement can also help. Some people also need a vitamin D supplement because it helps their body absorb calcium.
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Role Of Hormone Therapy
Gillian wonders whether hormone therapy would help.
Gynecologists have concentrated on determining which symptoms can truly be attributed to an estrogen-deficient state and are thus amenable to hormone replacement therapy. The most reliable way of determining response to hormones is via the randomized, double-blind clinical trial. To date, most trials that have assessed effects on mood and sexual functioning have had relatively small sample sizes. The stage of menopausal transition of the women participants has not always been clarified. There are also some difficulties in extrapolating results from studies of women who have undergone hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy to women who have retained their ovaries. Many of the trials failed to use validated and reliable assessments of mood and sexual functioning.
A review of six earlier double-blind studies found that all but one study reported that compared with placebo, there was a decrease in mood-related complaints, such as irritability, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.42
To summarize, most double-blind studies have found that estrogens have beneficial effects on mood and sexual functioning. The addition of a progestin leads to less favorable results. Factors involved in determining the acceptability of progestins were reviewed.48 Personality variables, dosage, and type of progestins used, and individual patient vulnerability may be important in determining the response to treatment.
What Conditions Cause Premature Menopause
Your genes, some immune system disorders, or medical procedures can cause premature menopause. Other causes include:
- Premature ovarian failure. When your ovaries prematurely stop releasing eggs, for unknown reasons, your levels of estrogen and progesterone change. When this happens before youâre 40, it’s called premature ovarian failure. Unlike premature menopause, premature ovarian failure isnât always permanent.
- Induced menopause. This happens when your doctor takes out your ovaries for medical reasons, such as uterine cancer or endometriosis. It can also happen when radiation or chemotherapy damages your ovaries.
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How Can I Find Out More About My Hormone Levels
If youâre planning for pregnancy, or youâre just generally curious about your hormone levels, you can use the Everlywell at-home Womenâs Fertility Test to easily test your hormone levels from the comfort of your own home.
With just a small sample of blood , you can check your levels of 5 different hormones related to fertility: estradiol, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, total testosterone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone. And you receive your results securely onlineâso you can easily access insights on your hormone balance whenever you want.
For an even more comprehensive look at your hormone levels, try the at-home Womenâs Health Test. By measuring 10 key hormones that play important roles in a womanâs health, the test can reveal a potential hormonal imbalance that may be keeping you from feeling your best.
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Understanding The Menopausal Transition
Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.
The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55. It usually lasts about seven years but can be as long as 14 years. The duration can depend on lifestyle factors such as smoking, age it begins, and race and ethnicity. During perimenopause, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly.
The menopausal transition affects each woman uniquely and in various ways. The body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily. You may experience changes in your bone or heart health, your body shape and composition, or your physical function.
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