Menopause is a normal and expected part of every woman’s life. But too often, women are taught to believe that because menopause is a natural transition, their symptoms are inevitable rather than something that requires medical intervention. For many, this damaging belief leads to unnecessary suffering.
According to a 2015 study, “85% of postmenopausal women have experienced a menopause-related symptom in their lifetime.” Among those surveyed, the most common symptoms were hot flashes, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, mood changes, and weight gain. In fact, 40 to 50 million women in the United States alone are estimated to have experienced vasomotor symptoms alone. While the intensity and duration of menopause symptoms can vary greatly, for many women, they come at a great cost; severe symptoms can derail your sense of well-being and significantly impact your quality of life. As such, seeking treatment can not only be prudent, but essential to maintaining physical and emotional health.
If you’re considering getting help for your menopause or perimenopause symptoms, the idea of natural treatment may be appealing, particularly if you are hesitant to turn to prescription medications. But before starting any kind of treatment—natural or otherwise—it’s crucial to get the facts on which tips for menopause relief actually work and which treatment options are safe and effective.
Why Hormone Replacement Therapy May Be Best
Over the past several decades, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been proven to be the best treatment for hot flashes and a wide range of other menopause symptoms. Today, it’s the first-line option for women seeking relief during menopause and perimenopause due to its high efficacy and excellent tolerability. Still, some women feel uncomfortable about using exogenous hormones to treat a natural hormonal change and turn to at-home remedies and drugstore products to seek relief from their symptoms.
Over-the-counter ”natural remedies” for hormonal imbalances can seem tempting because they’re typically inexpensive, accessible, and may be well-reviewed online. They may also seem to be like a safer and less drastic step than prescription products. But the majority of OTC menopause remedies are unregulated supplements that are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. For example, most wild yam creams that purport to promote hormone balance do not actually contain any hormones and have no mechanism for affecting hormone levels, rendering them useless. On the other hand, OTC natural progesterone creams that do contain progesterone have potential side effects that make them unsafe for some women. Unless you’re planning to use hormone-impacting supplements under the supervision of a qualified hormone specialist, it’s best not to put yourself at risk, regardless of how natural a product may seem.
The best way to find relief for your menopause symptoms is to see a hormone health practitioner who can help you navigate your treatment options—including hormone replacement therapy. With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), we’re able to replicate the exact hormones our body produces using plant sources, arguably making BHRT is as natural as any other mineral or vitamin substance you would ingest. As a result, even women who are hesitant to use or have not had success with conventional hormones may be comfortable with bioidentical treatment.
7 Tips for Natural Menopause Symptom Relief
If you prefer to manage your symptoms on your own or are looking for truly natural ways to supplement your hormone treatment, the following tips for menopause symptom relief can help:
1. Set up a cool environment.
Our first tip may be obvious to some, but if you’re struggling with body heat issues, you need to do everything you can to keep your environment cool. Lower the thermostat, invest in portable fans, and update your wardrobe with breathable clothing made from natural fibers to minimize the risk and discomfort of hot flashes.
2. Track your symptoms.
If you’re currently struggling with vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, the best thing you can do is identify any patterns that exist. Keep a careful record of what time of day your symptoms arise, and note what you were feeling, doing, or eating before each incident occurred. Also, monitor how your symptoms are increasing or decreasing in severity or frequency over time. Hormone levels fluctuate wildly during perimenopause and it can take time to adjust to your new hormonal state after menopause; tracking symptoms can help you understand how your body is reacting to these changes. However, tracking allows you to do more than observe; you may be able to identify triggers and make changes to avoid them.
3. Practice good sleep hygiene.
Many women struggle with insomnia and other sleep problems during menopause and perimenopause, both as the result of and in addition to night sweats. If this sounds like you, consider prioritizing your sleep hygiene. Sleeping in a dark room, eye masks, blackout curtains, earplugs, and noise machines can all help you sleep more soundly. Just as importantly, stick to a regular schedule in which you sleep at the same time each night and wake at the same time each morning. And remember that that schedule starts well before you actually fall asleep; prepare your mind and body for sleep by avoiding caffeine in the evenings and ceasing electronics use in the hours before bedtime. Also, try to avoid over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids unless recommended by your healthcare practitioner, as they may actually interfere with the quality of your sleep and prevent you from establishing a healthy, natural sleep rhythm.
4. Exercise regularly.
You’ve heard this before: moving your body is absolutely crucial to overall body health. The reason this advice is repeated so often is that it’s true. Regular, rigorous exercise can help lower stress, improve sleep quality, enhance mood, and offset any weight and body composition changes you may experience during menopause. While strength training is important to maintain muscle mass and bone density, cardio can help raise your body’s resting temperature, making hot flashes less common.
5. Avoid triggering substances.
One of the quickest ways to reduce the number of hot flashes you experience is to cut out all caffeine, alcohol, and cigarette use. These substances impact the process of vasodilation and cause hot flashes to occur more often. You should also consider avoiding spicy foods and meals that are served at high temperatures, as foods that burn in your mouth are likely triggers for menopausal hot flashes.
6. Establish relaxation practices.
Perimenopause and menopause can be extraordinarily stressful for some women. Unfortunately, stress can exacerbate the mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and hot flashes you might already be experiencing due to hormonal changes. Mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga can help you cope with stress and have been proven to reduce the frequency and severity of menopause symptoms.
7. Meet with a counselor or therapist.
If daily mindfulness practices aren’t making a big enough impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing, you might want to consider meeting with a counselor or therapist who can help you work through the difficult thoughts and feelings surrounding menopause and perimenopause. Many women experience anxiety and depression for the first time, or experience a resurgence of a prior mental health issue, due to the hormonal changes and overwhelming stress of perimenopause. Whether you’re struggling with difficult life experiences surrounding your menopause transition or your fluctuating hormone levels are aggravating a mood disorder, a compassionate mental health professional can help you cope with these experiences in a healthy way.
Getting the Best Support for Your Symptoms
While menopause is a natural phenomenon, it can also be a profoundly disruptive process that interferes with your daily life and well-being. But you do not have to suffer. With the right strategies, you can address your menopause symptoms and live life to its fullest during this transformative time.
For every woman seeking relief from menopause symptoms, regardless of her treatment preferences, we recommend seeing a hormone health specialist. The best hormone health practitioners will accurately measure and monitor your hormone levels, evaluate your symptoms, and educate you on all the treatments available on the market today, including hormone replacement therapy, natural strategies, and supplements. Antidepressants, anti-seizure and blood pressure medications, and a number of experimental drugs have also been proven to impact the symptoms of menopause. A hormone health practitioner can help you determine which options are most appropriate for your situation and provide guidance on how to incorporate diet and exercise changes to support greater wellness.
Regardless of which treatment option you choose, partnering with an expert will never be a bad idea. With their help, you’ll be able to discover the medicines and lifestyle strategies that work for you and find the relief you’ve been looking for.
BodyLogicMD is a nationwide network of top hormone health practitioners who specialize in helping women cope with the symptoms of menopause. The practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network understand how hormones can impact every aspect of your life and design personalized treatment plans that aim to treat the whole individual—not just the hormone issue. Contact a local practitioner to set up your first appointment to start your journey toward optimal health. Or, take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn more about the effects of hormonal change.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.