The OB/GYN department at the University of California, Los Angeles defines menopause as the time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to natural depletion of egg cells as a result of aging. A woman is considered to be going through menopause when she has missed 12 consecutive months of menses, marking the end of fertility. Menopause can be a physically and emotionally difficult process for any woman, but there are some ways to reduce the symptoms associated with menopause. Discussing the options below with your doctor is a good first step toward fewer menopause symptoms.
- Low-Dose Oral Contraceptives
Low-dose birth control pills may be an option if you have reached the final stage of menopause. They have a chance of reducing hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and moodiness. If you are still having periods, the contraceptives may also help control the flow or frequency. However, avoid this treatment if you have a history of blood clots or if you smoke.
- Prescription Medications
There are several different types of prescription medications that can be used to minimize menopausal symptoms. Antidepressants can lower the severity of hot flashes, irritability, depression, and moodiness. Clonidine is a medication used for high blood pressure that may help with hot flashes. Gabapentin is an antiseizure medication often used to suppress nerve pain, but it can also relieve pain associated with menopause.
- Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)
Menopause causes levels of estrogen and progesterone to fluctuate as your ovaries attempt to produce hormones. This can cause menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, and heavy periods. MHT works by assisting your body with the creation of hormones. MHT can be administered in multiple forms, so you can explore which option is most convenient with your doctor.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle changes
- Black Cohosh
Derived from a species of flower, studies have shown that black cohosh can be effective at reducing symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. It may also assist in lowering blood pressure. Women who consumed 250mg of black cohosh extract twice a day felt relief from a host of menopausal symptoms.
Soy contains isoflavones, which are plant estrogens. Somewhat like MHT in lower doses, studies have found that soy can relieve hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms. Consuming food that contains soy, such as tofu or soy milk, can minimize menopause symptoms.
Whether ground or as oil, flaxseed has omega-3 fatty acids that help the body combat symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes are the main symptom that flaxseed works to relieve, but it can also help other symptoms. Studies have mixed results, but some women report that flaxseed greatly alleviates their menopause symptoms.
- Regular Exercise
It can be difficult to exercise while going through menopause, but frequent physical activity has been proven to relieve numerous symptoms of menopause. Creating an exercise routine helps improve sleep patterns, mood, and night sweats. Exercise is also believed to help balance out hormones in your body.
- Stress Reduction
Stress can trigger menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and extreme irritability. Working on stress-relieving techniques can reduce the symptoms you experience. Yoga and tai chi are two exercises that can help reduce stress, weight gain, bloating, depression, and more.
- Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can relieve menopause symptoms. Eating more vitamin C, E, B, and more fatty acids has been shown to reduce symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, memory lapses, weight gain, and more. Consider eating foods rich in these vitamins to reduce symptoms of menopause.