Why do woman dread the Menopause?
Menopause, also referred to as the ‘change of life’, is the point at which a woman stops ovulating and menstruation ceases. To most women it signifies the loss of youth and desirability, the beginning of the end and the gradual metamorphosis into their granny.
Some women go through the menopause with few or no symptoms, these are the lucky few. Many women experience short-term or acute symptoms such as hot flushes, dizziness, headaches, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations. There may also be a grieving process for their lost youth which can manifest itself in mild depression and anxiety.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a synthetic drug which seems to magically offer the answer to the host of uncomfortable symptoms. Recent studies however are showing that HRT may not be as safe as originally thought.
A six-year Swedish study of 23,000 women using HRT found an 80 per cent increase in the risk of breast cancer for women using oestrogen-only HRT. Disturbingly, the highest risk was incurred by those using the continuous combination oestrogen-progestogen drug. Far from being protective, drugs with progestogens more than quadrupled the risk of breast cancer.
New England Journal of Medicine, 1989; 321: 293-7.
If you are thinking of going on HRT think very carefully and seek the advice of your GP but also speak to a qualified Naturopath who will advise on the natural alternatives.
If you are already taking HRT how can you judge whether it is unsuitable for you?
You may possibly be experiencing common symptoms that you haven’t realised could be connected – think about it carefully and ask yourself:
- Have you put on weight especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs even though you haven’t been eating any more than usual?
- Are you experiencing problems with sleeplessness – falling asleep very easily but waking in the early hours unable to get back to sleep?
- Do you experience more headaches than usual?
- Is your skin dry?
There are a host of symptoms that you may not think are related to HRT – Allergies, Altered thyroid activity (mimicking hypothyroidism), Decreased sex drive, Depression, Fatigue, Fluid retention, Foggy thinking and possibly osteoporosis.
If the answer to the above questions is a resounding ‘Yes’ perhaps it’s time to consider the natural alternatives to HRT.
A qualified Naturopath can discuss the alternatives with you. Do not immediately stop taking HRT as the body has been dependent upon the high level of hormones and there will be withdrawal effects. A gradual withdrawal over a period of three months or so is vital. Seek your GP’s advice and ask for a lower dose or change the brand to a patch which can be cut in half, quarters etc.
During the withdrawal process, what you eat can play a large part in a successful transition – include more phyto-oestrogens into your daily diet. Phyto-oestrogens are substances found in plant foods that have an effect on hormone status. They can mimic and modulate oestrogens and can help stabilise hormone fluctuations. Some of the phyto-oestrogenic foods are brown rice, beans, flax seeds, radishes, pomegranates, rhubarb, potatoes, fennel, green tea and soya products.
Are there any particular vitamins etc., menopausal women should be taking?
These days we’re told to eat low fat diets and most people have little or no fat in their diet – there is a massive deficiency in essential fatty acids! These are needed to help support glandular function, help decrease cravings, keep skin, hair and nails healthy, lubricate joints, reduce blood pressure, improve memory – all these things need support during your lifetime, not just the menopause and this applies to males as well. The mind set needs to be changed, eat more fat – avocados, nuts and oils (raw).
What’s the alternative in helping with the symptoms?
There are a number of ways in which women can attend to the various symptoms and illnesses that hormonal imbalance may be causing. Naturopathy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology and deep tissue massage are some of the safe effective options presently available. Doctors and complementary health practitioners can both have their place in a woman’s healthcare programme.
The ‘Health Detective’ can detect any hormonal imbalances.