The dreaded term older women dislike hearing. Menopause is an aging obstacle the reproductive hormones are bound to face. Levels of estrogen and progesterone start to lower, which are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. It is a natural process the female body endures, but one not many are fond of facing. The female body runs out of functioning eggs. At birth, females begin with anywhere from 1 to 3 million eggs, which over time gradually decrease in number. By the first menstrual cycle, the female might have about 400,000 eggs left. When menopause hits, a female might have about 10,000 eggs.
The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is the hormone that produces eggs during menstruation. When menopause starts, the eggs start to resist FSH and the ovaries produce less estrogen as well as less testosterone (affecting sex drive). Just when menopause hits varies person to person and is influenced by family history, autoimmune diseases, smoking, and even chemotherapy/radiation. The average age of menopause is 51.
All that being said, menopause does mean the start to the end of one’s menstrual cycles. You have officially been diagnosed as having gone through menopause when there is no menstrual cycle for 12 months. However, the symptoms of menopause are what wreak havoc for many. Those hot flashes, the emotional rollercoaster, and the lack of energy, make this time particularly undesirable. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, sleep problems, weight gain, night sweats, chills, slower metabolism, thinning hair, and dry skin. Weight gain can be the result of genetics or the fluctuation in hunger cues do to hormonal imbalances which could increase appetite. Loss of sleep doesn’t help either.
There are several natural remedies or approaches to help alleviate menopause related symptoms. Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens help mimic the role of estrogen in the body. These include tofu, flaxseeds, beans, sesame seeds, and tempeh. The dryness associated with menopause means it’s important to drink plenty of water. Processed foods and refined sugars should also be kept away or very limited. Some studies have even said that diets high in processed foods can heightened the emotional roller coaster of moods menopause can bring. Managing weight is the key, so skipping meals or eating far less than your body needs would actually be more detrimental than good. Keeping a stable blood sugar by eating more often and less more often would be a good way to assist metabolism. Protein is a good food selection to help keep staying full and satiated. There are natural substances too. Black cohosh has been found to help lessen the intensity of hot flashes. Cranberry extract, probiotics, prebiotics are other suggestions to suppress symptoms.
Truthfully, menopause is a natural part of life, so much like anything else, the better we take care of our health, the better we navigate through anything our body faces. Hormones are not a simple subject to cover and understand because every body can vary in levels and how the body uses them. The best approach is to have a body positive attitude and to have a few natural remedies to help along the when it comes to menopause.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause – PMC (nih.gov)
NAMS Menopause Journal | The North American Menopause Society, NAMS
Menopausal Symptoms and Their Management – PMC (nih.gov)
Menopause hormone therapy: latest developments and clinical practice – PMC (nih.gov)