Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy
Many women seem to think they have to make a straight choice when they discover they have reached the menopause stage of life.
They believe incorrectly that they have to choose whether to take one of the many forms of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or to go cold turkey and face the hormonal storm “alone.”
I’m disappointed to report that I have actually heard women boasting that they suffered through their symptoms rather than seek help. Whilst it’s true that menopause is a natural stage of life which doesn’t need to be viewed as an illness, there is nothing wrong in investigating ways of easing the sometimes unpleasant side effects as we move away from our child bearing years. It certainly doesn’t show any weakness of character.
So you don’t want to take HRT – that’s ok. Many people have concerns about the therapy, but did you know there many alternative, homeopathic and natural ways to combat symptoms?
Hot flashes for instance can be uncomfortable and inconvenient but dressing in layers can be a simple solution. I always kept a gel bead filled neck scarf in my bag, which after a morning soak in cold water stayed cool all day. When the flush hit I simply wrapped it round the back of my neck or pressed it against my forehead. You can buy hats with built-in cooling headbands too.
Smoking is thought to increase the likelihood of hot flashes, and sufferers might consider avoiding hot and/or spicy food and any drinks containing caffeine, which is also believed to make symptoms worse.
Many studies have noted that many menopausal women found acupuncture very effective in dealing with hot flashes and general wellbeing. And the great news if you are not keen on the idea of even very fine needles is that acupressure and cupping works well for lots of women too.
Is anxiety your issue? Your doctor might be able to help with antidepressants or hormone replacement therapy but regular exercise could help boost your mood and improve your general health too. Doing four or five sessions of weight-bearing exercises a week like walking or jogging will produce endorphins (the feel-good hormones) in your brain.
You might also lose any extra pounds, strengthen your bones (great news as menopausal women are prone to osteoporosis) and improve your heart health.
Include some relaxing exercise into your routine too like Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi or meditation and you will hopefully soon feel much happier and able to cope with the physical symptoms this time brings.
St John’s Wort is a well known herbal remedy for menopause to help combat depression but it can interfere with other medications, including those prescribed by your doctor so you should always talk to them before taking it.
Coming back to bone density and osteoporosis -one of the benefits of HRT is that it can help protect against diminishing bone density. However there are lots of alternatives – as well as making sure you have lots of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) in your diet through oily fish, eggs and dairy you could also consider supplements of fish oil or evening primrose oil.
Next page: supplements for mood swings and vaginal dryness.