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14 Jan 2014 12:59 PM - Symptoms and natural treatment options

Menopause is a time of transition.  Unfortunately, many women view it as the end of their good life as they know it and the start of a slide into old age, when in fact it can mark the start of a wonderful new era with all the opportunities that experience, wisdom and hard earned resources can bring. 

For some women, going through menopause can be a most unpleasant time. Technically, we only know menopause has occurred retrospectively.  It is defined as the absence of a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.  The time leading up to that date is what we now call peri-menopause and may start in the forties

For some women peri-menopause can last for a number of years with symptoms continuing on past menopause.  During this time, hormone levels can fluctuate and the menstrual cycle can become erratic.  As a consequence, during this transition phase some women will experience varying degrees of associated symptoms such as hot flushes, heavier bleeding, irregular cycles, vaginal dryness, insomnia, irritability, depression, poor concentration and more....not a lot of fun!

For many women, these symptoms will be non-existent or only a minor irritation but for others they can be very debilitating and really affect their quality of life and ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

In order to achieve this transition successfully and sail gracefully into menopause, it is wise to prepare for this mid-stage of your life.  The healthier you are in your forties, the greater your chances of minimal menopausal symptoms. (But, you know's never too late to make some changes).

Often it is not just changing hormones contributing to your symptoms.  For many, this is an extremely demanding time in a woman’s life.  You may have teenage children, elderly parents and a demanding job.  All these extra stressors in your life can exacerbate your symptoms.  Sometimes, other little health issues come up (such as thyroid conditions). 

These may have been there for a while but peri-menopause seems to bring them out.  It can be the straw that broke the camel’s back!  This is part of the reason why every woman is different and needs to be treated differently.

What can you do to reduced your menopausal symptoms?

The good news is that a supportive diet and lifestyle complemented by some nutritional supplements and traditional herbal remedies can make a big difference.

A good place to start is:

  • A diet which includes foods rich in phyto-oestrogens such as tofu and flaxseed and avoids coffee, alcohol, and very spicy foods.  This can help with hot flushes.

  • A lifestyle which incorporates some relaxation and exercise has also been shown to help in reducing symptoms.

  • Nutritional supplements such as magnesium, vitamin B6 and calcium may also be useful for some symptoms. 

Herbs such as Vitex agnes-castus, Withania somnifera, Schisandra chinensis, Cimicifuga racemosa, Salvia officinalis and Hypericum perforatum have all been shown to have numerous positive effects and there are many more herbs in our arsenal so we have plenty to choose from in prescribing a formula which will address the individual symptom picture as rarely are two women alike.  In fact, I recently attended a seminar on the topic where 12 different menopausal pictures were presented depending on your specific hormonal changes.

So if you, or someone close to you, are starting to feel the effects of a mid-life transition it is not necessary to suffer in silence.  There are many things you can do to make life easier.  But as always, before taking any nutritional or herbal medicines I would advise you to seek professional advice from a naturopath or herbalist to ensure you are getting the best possible support for your particular health needs, taking into account any other aspects of your health.

Need a helping hand?  Feel free to call me on 9620 9503.  That's what I'm here for.

In good health,

Kaye Wright
Melbourne CBD

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