Guide to Menopause: Symptoms & Treatments

Understanding Menopause and How it is Treated

Most women have many questions about menopause. These include when it will happen, as well as what to expect with regard to symptoms and whether or not there are effective ways to treat such symptoms.

A woman’s reproductive system undergoes changes as early as age 35, when the ovaries begin to get smaller. Once this occurs, they produce less progesterone and estrogen each month. These changes accelerate over the next 10 years, affecting a woman’s menstrual cycle in a variety of ways.

Perimenopause is considered the transition into menopause, and usually lasts anywhere from two to eight years. Once a woman hits menopause, which is earmarked by the fact that she has gone 12 consecutive months without her monthly cycle, she has officially reached menopause and can no longer become pregnant.

Age

A woman’s menopause age cannot be predicted, only estimated. For example, the average woman transitions into menopause in her early 40s and enters natural menopause at 50 or 51 years of age, at which point her menstrual cycle often abruptly stops.

However, there are many factors that affect how soon a woman enters menopause, such as the age of her first menstrual cycle, how many children, if any, she has had, whether or not they were breast-fed, the type of birth control she uses, and genetics. Of all these factors, heredity is actually the strongest indicator: most women enter menopause the same year–or within a few years of the date–that their mother entered menopause.

Menopause Signs and Symptoms: What to Expect

In addition to the absence of a menstrual cycle, various psychological and physical signs and symptoms occur that herald a woman’s transition to menopause. The majority of symptoms are related to progesterone, estrogen and testosterone levels. Brain cells, skin cells and even the pH balance of the digestive system are sensitive to these hormones.

All women experience menopause differently, and therefore, symptoms vary significantly from one woman to the next. However, the signs of menopause most women can anticipate include one or more of the following:

• Night sweats or hot flashes

• Insomnia

• Increased body fat and loss of muscle

• Aching joints

• Moodiness

• Thinning hair on head

• More facial hair

• Mental fog and forgetfulness

• Increased or decreased appetite

• Change in feelings about sex

The aforementioned symptoms usually occur at a gradual pace. However, women who have induced menopause may have a more intense or sudden onset of symptoms. A good example of this is women who have had a hysterectomy that included an oophorectomy, during which the ovaries were surgically removed.

Treating Menopause Symptoms

There is a broad range of treatments for menopause symptoms, ranging from synthetic hormones to natural remedies. Many women prefer natural treatments, as there is less possibility of side effects where such remedies are concerned.

Exercise

Exercise is considered one of the most important things a woman can do to stay healthy throughout her life, and exercise is essential for menopausal women. Regular aerobic and strength training exercise sessions can help reduce and prevent bone loss, as well as lower a woman’s risk for certain types of cancer, Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Thirty minutes of moderately intense exercise at least three times a week is recommended. Examples of this include dancing, jogging, or brisk walking.

Vitamins

Beginning at 50 years of age, it is recommended that women supplement their diet with 800 IU of vitamin D3, 1500 mg of calcium, and 40 IU of vitamin E once daily to maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis. However, it is important to stick to recommended doses and not “overdo it” with any particular vitamin.

Supplements for Menopause

There are also several natural supplements that a woman may wish to consider using to control symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.

Phytoestrogens such as red clover–a natural herb–have been reviewed positively with regard to their ability to reduce hot flashes and help with mental fog. Black cohosh is also somewhat effective in reducing the symptoms of menopause, and is the primary ingredient in supplemental formulas such as Estroven. Evening Primrose oil and Dong Quai are also popular menopause supplements, although studies have not yet been completed to determine their exact effectiveness.

Another safe, effective and unique supplement for menopause is Amberen, the latter of which is a proprietary succinate blend that also contains vitamin E, minerals and amino acids. It is patented in the United States where it has been researched for multiple decades. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on human females, it was shown to be effective and safe when used for menopause symptoms according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As of 2018, no serious side effects have been reported with Amberen.

Few women go through life without at least some symptoms of menopause, but by following a healthy diet, exercising and using natural supplements, these symptoms can often be greatly reduced. As always, one should speak to a licensed healthcare practitioner prior to adding any new vitamin or supplement to her diet.

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