Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Menopause it an incredible season of change for a woman. It often occurs around the age of 51, beginning in Perimenopause between 45 and 50 years of age. Perimenopausal women often experience mood changes, changes in sleep or insomnia, hot flushes, night sweats, less frequent menstruation, bone density loss, vaginal dryness, and lowered libido all due to the body re-regulating hormones to begin this new phase. It’s an extraordinarily natural process of life.
While the number of eggs starts to get low, the hormones that regulate egg production decrease and oestradiol (oestrogen), testosterone and progesterone production also decreases. The uterine lining stops building up, and therefore doesn’t need to shed. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinising Hormone (LH) can be elevated. Menstruation can become more frequent followed by long cycles, becoming more irregular as the women gets closer to menopause. Menopause itself is diagnosed a year after the final menstruation, i.e. 12 months of amenorrhoea (no period). At this point, there are no eggs left and there is no follicular ovarian activity. Oestrone becomes the dominant form of oestrogen in post menopausal women.
The naturopathic treatment during this season of change is largely symptomatic support. We can provide advice and support for the prevention of any disease processes that are of an increased risk post-menopause, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Select dietary inclusions that you and your health provider choose may include: increased phyto-oestrogens (such as soy, legumes, and beans) which act similarly to oestrogen and can assist in reducing symptoms, fresh ground flax seeds to reduce hot flushes, and plenty of calcium rich foods such as dark green leaves, bone broth, dairy, nuts and seeds. A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables ensures adequate levels of antioxidants (vitamin C, Zinc, vitamin A) and healthy fats (vitamin E, vitamin D) to maintain strong bone health and reduce oxidative stress.
Herbs such as Black Cohosh and Wild Yam can reduce hot flushes and headaches due to their effects which decrease luteinising hormone and potentially interact with oestrogen receptors. And of course, varied and quality sources of calcium.
Herbs such as black cohosh and wild yam may assist with hot flashes and headaches due to their hormonal actions. Some women find sage tea helpful for night sweats also, along with alfalfa. You might find sedative, nervine, and anxiolytic herbs helpful to reduce feelings of anxiety and assist sleep disturbances. Red clover, available as a tea, is useful in all parts of a woman’s life, but in perimenopause it may help to reduce symptoms and vaginal dryness in particular . Adaptogenic and oestrogenic* herbs are helpful in perimenopause to support the body in regulating itself. Chaste tree for example acts on dopaminergic pathways to reduce PMS symptoms that may present with irregular cycles, such as in late perimenopause Additionally, some herbalists and naturopaths may assess adrenal function and mood, especially as the changes and symptoms often cause some stress.
As with all medical needs, it’s best to seek professional advice (from a naturopath) before undertaking anything drastic. Small dietary additions such as mentioned above may be more individualised and targeted towards you with such advice.
I am available for appointments at the Think Wellbeing Centre (ph: 3270 1040).