Years ago women going through the menopause were prescribed HRT as the norm but due to bad publicity regarding links to an increase in getting breast and ovarian cancer and other health risks if taking HRT, more and more women are reluctant to use it.
Fast forward 30 years or so and there is a lot more information about HRT and the risks involved and putting them all into perspective. Although there is a small risk of getting ovarian, womb and breast cancer, as well as blood clots, stroke and DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) these are all relatively small, compared to if you compare it to other lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and being overweight (1).
The longer you are on HRT also means you are at greater risk of getting the above but once you stop HRT your risk declines and your risk appears to return to normal within 5 years of stopping HRT.(2) HRT is supposed to be a short term fix so many medics say the benefits outweigh the risks if used for 5 years or less.
There are benefits of being on HRT such as relief from hot flushes, reduced risk of developing osteoporosis and bowel cancer, better sex drive and reduced vaginal dryness, recurrent UTI’s and bladder incontinence.
Diet – A healthy diet rich in ‘phytoestrogens’ (plant oestrogens), which have a hormone like effect on the body, are found in broccoli, garlic, seeds, grains, peas, soya beans, cinnamon, sage and parsley. Avoiding alcohol, sugar, caffeine in tea and coffee and spicy foods also help as they can trigger hot flushes and sweating.
In fact, there is strong evidence to say that 3 portions of soya a day helps reduce and in many cases eliminate hot flushes. In Japan, there is no word for hot flush, as they don’t experience them due to the amount of isoflavones (phytoestrogens) they consume daily.
So what is a portion of soya? Well, it’s a pot of soya yogurt, glass of soya milk, soya milk on cereal, soya beans as a vegetable or added to dishes or even take a palm-full of soya nuts as a snack. Note that if you substitute dairy for soya products then please ensure they are supplemented to a level the same as dairy i.e. 120mg calcium per 100 ml. Some products are better than others, and also note that as calcium is not classed as organic, then organic soya milk will not be supplemented with calcium.
Exercise – This helps not only in keeping stress levels lower, which can trigger hot flushes but it also keeps muscles and bones healthy which is important as women lose bone density after the menopause due to oestrogen levels falling and are more susceptible to osteoporosis. Exercise is great for our overall health as it keeps us fit and healthy, can help us to maintain a healthy weight and fight against heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and is also good for brain health. Not to mention great for improving our mood (something always helpful when experiencing the menopause), reducing stress and better sleep quality. The benefits are endless!
Any exercise is good for your health and wellbeing and strength training exercises, using weights or weight bearing exercises such as Yoga, Pilates etc are good to build muscle mass as you lose this as you age.
Sleep – Essential in keeping the brain and body rested and functioning to the best of its ability. Night Sweats can be a real issue and stop you from getting a rested night’s sleep. Keeping the room cool, turning off any mobiles or laptops so you’re not disturbed by messages or the blue light omitted which disturbs your sleep hormones and wearing cool clothes in bed can help. See my articles on getting a good night’s sleep. http://www.mind-bodywellness.co.uk/blog/category/sleep
Smoking – Has so many negative effects on your health, a cancer risk, can lead to heart disease, respiratory disorders but it can also bring on the menopause earlier than non smokers and cause worse hot flushes. I have amazing results for those who WANT to kick this habit forever. http://www.mind-bodywellness.co.uk/stop-smoking-help.html
It is important to take time out for yourself and do things to improve your mood, such as exercise, which releases the endorphin chemicals which help you to feel better about things and uses up that excess adrenalin and stress hormones.
Mindfulness – Being aware of the present moment, and concentrating on your breathing and using yoga and meditation. This is being used more and more in dealing successfully with stress/anxiety, but it is something you need to do regularly to see best results.
Hypnotherapy is another tool I use, along with NLP and Time Line Therapy, which fine tunes your thought processes and taps into the latent power of the mind to de-stress you and promote relaxation and healing throughout your mind and body. Highly successful tool that is now being used more and more.
There is so much more information and alternative therapies out there now for women that the menopause should not be feared. Although can appreciate it can be a pain and slightly annoying that men don’t experience the symptoms, so unable to empathise with what it can feel like for us women, but we can adapt and deal with it head on and prevent it getting us down!
References below linked to the numbers stated above, plus some other reading used to produce this blog: