Exploring Hormone Replacement Therapy Alternatives
Looking to manage your menopause symptoms without the use of traditional HRT? Keep on reading to discover some alternative HRT options.
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 around 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 work well for lots of women too.
Anxiety and Mental Illness
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.
Bone Density and Osteoporosis
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.
Many menopausal women are deficient in magnesium so if you are considering supplements for strong bones make sure you include this. Or you could just choose one of the many multi-vitamin supplements compiled especially for use during the Peri-menopause and Menopause. You might find they help combat mood swings and your flagging libido too.
Whilst we are in the bedroom metaphorically, solving vaginal dryness might help you feel more confident and solve any relationship issues cause by a partner who might be feeling confused and upset by your apparent lack of interest in them.
Don't be embarrassed to ask your pharmacist for vaginal moisturizers or lubricants (or pick up a tube in bigger grocery stores) or head to your local natural or alternative health store and ask about phytoestrogens – natural estrogens found in plants.
Ginseng and Dong Quai both contain phytoestrogens as do many soy products, linseed, tofu, and mung beans. Soy products have been shown to lower blood cholesterol too – a useful bonus. You could switch to soy milk, buy soy yogurts or look for soy and linseed bread. Be aware though, if you have been told you cannot take estrogen for medical reasons you might not be able to use phytoestrogens either.
It's an interesting fact by the way that Japanese women (who eat more soy and tofu products than other ethnicities) and Asian women report fewer hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms than many other ethnic groups. Mayan women in Mexico report almost no hot flashes while African American women report a higher incidence of hot flashes and vaginal dryness than Caucasian women. Fascinating!
Whatever your ethnic background, if you really don't want to take any form of medication or supplement, even those based in nature, you could try that reliable standby - a balanced diet.
Making sure you eat a good mix of foods, ensuring that not all of your protein comes from meat or dairy and keeping a watchful eye on your portion sizes could just mean the difference between suffering and sailing through the menopause.
The Bottom Line...
In general, HRT is a safe and viable treatment option for menopausal symptoms. HRT is used to treat menopausal symptoms for many women each year. The possible side effects, as well as the risks associated with HRT, should be discussed prior to prescribing with your physician.
HRT is not for every woman. Is it for you? Maybe – and maybe not! If you’re wondering about how to treat your menopausal symptoms, it is time to contact your physician.