Do you get frequent hot flashes and night sweats? Do you also have vaginal dryness and trouble sleeping? If so, then you’re experiencing the most common symptoms of perimenopause. Other common symptoms include mood swings, acne, poor concentration and memory, more frequent urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and weight gain (5 lbs. on average).
Perimenopause is the time period preceding menopause when women begin to experience changes in their menstrual cycles. The average age of onset is 47.5 years. Menopause begins one year after the last menstrual period.
Perimenopausal symptoms are caused by a drop in progesterone levels relative to estrogen levels.
No two women experience the same transition into menopause. For example, some women get hot flashes every hour of every day, whereas others experience them a few times a year or not at all.
Hot flashes are experienced by 85% of Western women. The most common triggers are stress, caffeine, alcohol, hot or spicy food and drinks, and warm environments. Hot flashes occur mostly during the first two years postmenopause. For most women, they last about two years. For other women, they can last five to ten years or longer. The cause of hot flashes is not known.
Naturopathic Treatment Plan
- Eat a whole foods diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, especially soybean products and flaxseed. Decrease your consumption of simple carbohydrates, animal fat, and total fat. Include small amounts of low-fat organic dairy.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise not only reduces body fat. It also reduces your risk of breast cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and depression. Be sure to include flexibility, strength, and cardiac training.
- Herbs: Several studies show that black cohosh (Cimicifuga/Actea racemosa) is an effective herb for mitigating menopausal symptoms: hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disorders, and body aches. According to one study, 85% of women experienced some relief after four weeks compared with placebo, and 50% of women experienced complete relief of hot flashes and night sweats after three months compared with placebo.
- Combination herbal formulas are also effective although not well studied. Herbs tend to work better synergistically rather than on their own.
- Many women find relief with acupuncture treatments.
What if it doesn’t work?
If you do not experience sufficient relief through diet, exercise, herbs or supplements, and acupuncture, consider bioidentical hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy can be considered if all else fails. Be sure to use the lowest possible effective dose for the shortest effective time period so as not to increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.
Please forward this post to anyone who would benefit from the information.
Yours in health,
Lina Mockus, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine