Women's Health, Menopause | October 9, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Menopause marks the end of the monthly cycle of menstruation in a woman’s life. It is a natural occurrence and most women will experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being 51. As a woman approaches menopause, the production of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone starts to slow down. Hormone levels at this time fluctuate and a woman may experience any of the following symptoms.
Eventually, the hormone levels will fall to a point where the ovaries stop releasing eggs, and this is when menstruation with cease altogether and menopause is reached. Some of the symptoms that women may experience include:
After menopause, women are at risk of certain medical conditions. These include the following:
When estrogen levels decline, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as in men. It is important and this time to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and maintain a normal weight.
This condition causes bones to become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. During the first few years after menopause, a woman may lose bone density at an accelerated rate, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Postmenopausal women with osteoporosis are especially susceptible to fractures of their spine, hips and wrists.
As the tissues of the vagina and urethra lose elasticity, a woman may experience frequent, sudden, and strong urges to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine (urge incontinence), or the loss of urine with coughing, laughing or lifting (stress incontinence). All of these issues may mean that woman are more susceptible to urinary tract infections at this time of their lives too.
Vaginal dryness from decreased moisture production and loss of elasticity can cause discomfort and slight bleeding during sexual intercourse. Also, decreased sensation may reduce the libido.
Many women gain weight during menopause because the metabolism slows down. Eating less and exercising more could be a requirement in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Eat and drink two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day. Calcium is found in dairy products, fish with bones (such as sardines and canned salmon), broccoli, and legumes. Dosage of 1,200 milligrams per day.
Eat at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and good quality grains. Iron can reduce drastically and quickly if heavy bleeding is experienced, after menopause diet alone should maintain healthy iron stores and levels.
Menopausal women need to ensure they are consuming enough foods rich in vitamin D or taking supplementation to prevent bone loss. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish and fortified foods. Canned salmon is also a good option since it contains the tiny bones rich in calcium.
Evening primrose seeds are rich in GLA (gamma linolenic acid), which is an essential fatty acid. Evening primrose oil supplements can help relieve breast pain, mood swings and night sweats during menopause. Studies show that evening primrose can also help relieve hot flashes and headaches.
High-fibre foods are important for cardiovascular and digestive health, as well as helping maintain a healthy weight.
Some studies have even found that diets higher in fibre help to balance production of oestrogen. High-fibre diets are associated with less weight gain, healthier cholesterol levels and reduced constipation. Some of the best sources include nuts, seeds, legumes/beans, ancient grains, avocado, veggies and fruit. Aim to get 21 grams of fibre a day which is at least 1 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables each day.
Omega-3 fats from fish and flaxseed can protect the heart and counteract inflammation from omega-6 fats (found mostly in refined oils and low quality meat). Some of the best sources include wild-caught salmon, halibut, sardines, mackerel and anchovies. Studies show that frequently consuming omega-3s facilitates in hormone production and helps to prevent menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, heart complications, depression and breast cancer.
These contain the building blocks for hormone production, keep inflammation low, boost the metabolism and promote satiety that is important for preventing weight gain. Unrefined oils provide essential vitamin E that helps regulate estrogen production. These oils include coconut oil, palm oil, extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil. Other sources of healthy fats include avocado, coconut milk, nuts, seeds and wild seafood.
Vegetables in the cruciferous family such as broccoli, cabbage and kale contain indole-3-carbinol, which naturally helps to balance estrogen levels. These vegetables are also high in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and electrolytes that are important for blood pressure and heart health.
Almonds are a great source of healthy fat, which helps with the drying effects of low estrogen levels. They are also high in magnesium, vitamin E, and vitamin B2, which is essential to vascular integrity. Almonds are also high in trace minerals like manganese and copper.
This herb can help prevent menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats. Research shows it helps to improve the quality of sleep during menopause also. Dosage is 80 milligrams once to twice daily.
Vitex has been clinically proven to relieve hot flashes. It also has many of the same hormone-balancing properties as black cohosh, helping to regulate hormones tied to sleep problems, as well as fibroids, skin changes and irregular periods. Research shows that vitex increases luteinizing hormone, modulates prolactin and aids in the inhibition of the release of follicle-stimulating hormone, which all helps balance out the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, slightly raising the levels of progesterone. Dosage is 160–240 milligrams daily.
Red clover can help prevent loss of bone density and lower risk for heart complications. Red clover contains isoflavones that have positive effects in reducing symptoms related to estrogen loss such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, weight gain, bone loss, bone fractures or osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems, and inflammation of the joints.
This herb has been safely used for over 2,000 years, often to lower anxiety, depression and sleep related problems. It has the ability to stabilize mood, reduce inflammation, improve sleep and make the emotional and mental transition through menopause easier.
An adaptogenic herb which has been used for thousands of years to lower the effects of stress and aging on the body by decreasing cortisol levels. It can help reduce hot flashes, fatigue, restlessness and weight gain while improving libido. Dosage is 1000–2000 milligrams daily.
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Van de Weijer PH, Barentsen R. Isoflavones from red clover (Promensil) significantly reduce menopausal hot flush symptoms compared with placebo. Maturitas. 2002 July 25;42(3):187-93.
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