We live in a wonderful time where hormones are readily available to women for the treatment of menopause symptoms. Hot flashes, fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and low libido can all be treated with hormone replacement of estrogens (yes that’s plural), progesterone, and testosterone. It’s all about balance, but sometimes the hormones cause undesirable side effects, sometimes hormones can’t be used (because of cancer or other health reasons), and sometimes the effects of menopause are mild enough that the blood tests and daily hormone replacement aren’t worth it to the woman. Today I want to go over the top 5 most complained about menopause symptoms and non-hormonal ways to help make them more manageable.
Hot Flashes: Hot flashes are caused by the body’s inability to thermoregulate because the hormone ratio’s are off. This can be one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of menopause because it can effect someone at social events, it can effect sleep, and its just plain annoying. You’re hot, you’re cold, you’re hot, you’re cold. Oh my god MAKE IT STOP! There are a few things that can help:
- Watch your stress levels. High stress can set off a hot flash. That’ll teach you to lose your temper (hee hee).
- Watch out for certain foods. Caffeine and high sugar diets can set off hot flashes (that makes a frappuccino a bit of a no-no). Spicy foods can also set off a hot flash. To a degree it will take you figuring out what your own triggers are and avoiding them, if possible.
- Dressing in layers can help because as you warm up you can peel the layers off and as you cool down you can restore those layers.
- Keeping a cool rag handy, especially at night for those hot flashes that pop up and wake you up.
- If you’re looking for supplements to help, taking 400IU of vitamin E a day can help and, if not, you can always add Evening Primrose oil supplements to the mix.
Fatigue: This is being caused by the hormone changes and those wicked hot flashes that are keeping you up at night. It also is probably being caused because of the type of people menopausal women are. At this point in your life you are running around taking care of your significant other, children, work, friends, the dog, and pretty much everyone else but you.
- Remember to take 10 minutes for yourself every day at least. Sit down and relax and take some deep breaths.
- Remember to eat healthy because this will help with your hormone balance and energy levels and start exercising to help with hormone regulation and boost your body’s energy levels. Yoga is GREAT for this. Deep breathing, stretching, and some really good kinesthetics! It’s a great workout and also helps with relaxation. It can be that workout you can squeeze in before bedtime without winding yourself up!
- Remember, you can’t take care of anybody if you don’t take care of yourself!
Weight Gain: I think this one really bothers women the most. Your whole body changes in menopause and that belly fat that you may not have ever dealt with starts to creep in. It’s hard and its frustrating. Your body’s hormones change and your body becomes stressed. Stress means that your body goes into starvation mode (Damn those animal instincts) and so it begins to store fat that we really don’t need.
- The best way to handle this is to change your lifestyle. Stay away from refined carbohydrates.
- Lots of fruits, lots of veggies, lean protein, fiber, and portion control. It’s not easy. I hammer on it a lot (Yes I can feel you glaring at me right now).
- If you mess up for a day don’t worry.
- If you want a naughty day, that’s okay.
- If your husband and kids don’t like spinach, tough cookies. If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.
- Get out and exercise. Take a bike ride, go for a walk, jump rope (so much fun!), do yoga, do tai chi, but do something.
Hair Loss: This is an imbalance in the ratio between testosterone and estrogen. This is so frustrating because women really define their femininity by their hair.
- Make sure you are taking a multivitamin at this point. I don’t suggest multivitamins normally, but prenatal vitamins can be really helpful for women suffering from this problem.
- Add in Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil and chia seeds are my favorite. If those fish burps are bothering you put your fish oil in the fridge and remember taking over 1200mg can also decrease your risk for heart disease, help your skin and your memory.
Low Libido: This is the thing that a lot of women don’t want to talk about. Don’t worry. You’re still dead sexy! Menopause can really take a toll on your energy levels (see tips above), your confidence because of your body changing (pretty dang sure that person you’re sleeping next too doesn’t look the same as the day you met them either. Remember you’re growing old together and that’s just bloody romantic), and you may be suffering from vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness can really make sex painful and then it’s no wonder you don’t want to get intimate. Ouch!
- Get those omega-3 fatty acids in your diet again.
- Do some kegels to strengthen up (yes it counts as working out) and encourage healthy cells.
- Lubrication helps, but so would vitamin E suppositories and Cocoa Butter suppositories. These things can be compounded fairly easily.
- Just don’t be embarrassed to ask and talk to your doctor and your partner!
Remember, Mixtures Pharmacy is here to answer all your questions. We can help you find the right supplement, find a great doctor, compound your medication, and try to make menopause as easy a transition as possible. Just remember you need to take care of YOU.