Menopause is diagnosed when you have not had a menstrual cycle for 12 months and occurs when your ovaries have stopped producing and releasing eggs. It is during this time, and also the months and years before, that hormone levels in your body can fluctuate.
Hormonal changes during menopause can bring on a list of symptoms that are uncomfortable and, at times, seemingly uncontrollable. Regaining control of your body is the ultimate goal when you are living with these symptoms.
The Most Common Hormonal Changes During Menopause
“Periods may be shorter or longer and bleeding may be heavier or lighter. Essentially, your body will feel like it is on a hormonal roller coaster ride.”
The most common hormonal changes that occur are an overall decrease in the amount of estrogen and progesterone. Although women have low levels compared to men, testosterone levels may also decrease. Changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone affect breast tissue, the vagina, the lining of the uterus, and bone density. Changes in levels of testosterone can decrease sex drive.
Although there is an overall decrease in estrogen and progesterone, at times, levels may also increase creating fluctuations that lead to irregularities in the menstrual cycle. You may skip periods for one month or several months. Periods may be shorter or longer and bleeding may be heavier or lighter. Essentially, your body will feel like it is on a hormonal roller coaster ride.
How Do These Hormonal Changes Affect You?
These hormonal changes can affect your body and mind in many different ways. You may experience some or all of these menopause symptoms: irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, chills, night sweats, weight gain, moodiness, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, skin dryness, decreased sex drive, and thinning hair. Although these symptoms are considered to be normal, they will make you feel far from normal.
“women can be, and many are, greatly affected by hormone fluctuations. Sometimes it gets to the point of feeling totally overwhelmed – as if for a time they have lost control of their life.”
Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of The Wisdom of Menopause and Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, describes the effects of these hormone fluctuations. She states that “women can be, and many are, greatly affected by hormone fluctuations. Sometimes it gets to the point of feeling totally overwhelmed – as if for a time they have lost control of their life.”
Natural Remedies to Ease the Negative Effects of These Hormonal Changes
Many women are turning to natural remedies to ease the negative effects of these hormonal changes in order to avoid the side effects that mainstream hormonal replacement therapy can cause. There are many natural remedies with different effects available to ease specific symptoms. This makes it possible to tailor your treatment to the specific symptoms that you may be experiencing.
Black cohosh is a popular herbal supplement that can treat hot flashes and moodiness. It is thought to act like serotonin does in the brain to regulate body temperature and to elevate mood.
Red clover is another herb that can ease hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness, and vaginal dryness. It is thought to have estrogen-like activity and has also been used to support bone density.
St. John’s wort is an herbal supplement that can be used to treat mood swings and sleep problems. It has also been used to treat anxiety and mild depression.
Vaginal dryness can be effectively treated with a vaginal lubricant and sex drive can be stimulated with the off-label use of topical testosterone creams.
“Exercise can reinforce positive feelings of empowerment and of taking control of these symptoms that can make you feel helpless and out of control.”
Vitamin and mineral supplements are another way to ease symptoms. Magnesium can help with bone loss, sleep problems, tissue dryness, mood swings, and energy level. Vitamin D is good for bone development and hormonal balance.
Exercises, like stretching, walking, and yoga, have been shown to elevate mood and help maintain an overall sense of well-being which is so important when dealing with all the negative effects that menopause symptoms can bring into your life. Exercise can also reinforce positive feelings of empowerment and of taking control of these symptoms that can make you feel helpless and out of control.
Although frustrating, uncomfortable, and even disturbing, symptoms of hormonal changes that occur during menopause are temporary and can be controlled and alleviated with a variety of natural remedies. However, it is always best to first consult with a doctor before treating any symptoms with natural remedies.
A correct diagnosis of your condition is the first step in treating it, as menopause symptoms could also be symptoms of another or more serious condition. Once diagnosed, symptoms can be controlled and relieved with a variety of natural remedies that can carry you through this difficult change of life. Northrup believes that “sometimes, even the smallest changes can make a huge difference.”
Sources & References: