7 Natural Menopause Treatments That Really Work
Though menopause is a natural part of the aging process, its symptoms can cause significant pain and discomfort. And stigma surrounding the discussion of menstrual health can make it harder to find relief. Here, we’ve outlined some simple lifestyle choices that can help alleviate menopause symptoms. Remember that talking to your doctor is always a good first step for any health-related issue.
Adding more Phytoestrogen, Calcium, and Vitamin D to your diet can ease some of the symptoms of menopause
As hot flashes become more of an issue during this stage of life, taking care to wind down properly in the evening and using calming aids like weighted blankets can help with sleep
Avoiding certain substances like tobacco and alcohol and exercising more also has been shown to lead to positive outcomes related to menopause
Did you know?
The transitional period when hormone production in the ovaries slows down is known as perimenopause. Its length depends on the person, but 3-4 years is the rough average. Menopause itself officially begins when you go 12 months without a period.
Between hot flashes, anxiety, and mood changes, among other symptoms, the effects of menopause can be overwhelming. And while there are different remedies that may help, 73% of menopausal women aged 40 – 65 decline treatment.
Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take at home to address your symptoms. Here are 7 natural menopause treatments that can bring real relief.
1. Eat Foods Rich in Phytoestrogens
Many natural remedies for menopause hot flashes and other symptoms involve eating specific foods. Topping that list are phytoestrogen-rich foods.
As women enter perimenopause and eventually transition to menopause, their bodies produce less and less estrogen. This throws natural temperature regulation systems out of whack.
And while it's tough to beat the body's natural ability to produce the nutrient, there's hope. Research shows that eating more soy, for example, can help menopausal women deal with hot flashes. That's because it's naturally chock-full of phytoestrogens.
For the soy-shy, another great option is flaxseed. A 2016 research review found that the estrogen content in the little seeds can help with hot flashes, too.
It can be consumed on its own or as an oil, so if you're struggling with the heat it might be worth a try.
2. Eat Foods Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D
As if hot flashes from a lack of estrogen weren't enough, women entering menopause may also have to deal with weaker bones. Once again, this issue stems from hormonal changes.
As the body produces less estrogen, it also ditches the ability to activate vitamin D internally. This leads to an inability to make use of calcium properly and, in turn, can have a weakening effect on bones.
Because of that, adding foods rich in calcium and vitamin D is crucial for those looking to treat menopause naturally.
Under normal circumstances, you can get vitamin D just by stepping outside since your body absorbs it via the sun's rays. However, this may not be possible depending on your estrogen levels and where you live.
Thankfully, most milk products are fortified with extra vitamin D. They naturally contain calcium, too.
If you're looking for additional sources of calcium, many tofu products contain the mineral. It'll also allow you to kill two birds with one stone since tofu is a soy product naturally containing phytoestrogen.
Other options are dark green, leafy vegetables like kale or broccoli. Failing that, you can always go pill-sized.
3. Supplement Your Diet
All kinds of supplements are marketed toward premenopausal and menopausal women looking to manage their situation.
They can help with hot flashes associated with low estrogen levels, bone strengthening, and even mood stabilization through vitamin D.
You'll want to consult a doctor before diving into the world of supplements so you can figure out what’s right for you. Here is a list of some of the common ones to ask about:
- Flaxseed oil. As mentioned above, this helps manage estrogen levels.
- Red clover. Used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy, a 2021 study showed that red clover supplements can work as a natural remedy for menopause hot flashes.
- Vitamin D and calcium. For the vegans out there, getting vitamin D, and to a lesser extent calcium, might prove difficult. That's where supplements come in.
- Black cohosh. There are safety concerns with this supplement, but several studies have also shown that it can help with hot flashes.
- St. John's Wort. If you're looking for a natural remedy to help with your mood, the search might end here.
Whether you choose to supplement or not, remember that these are meant as an aid, not the main course. Use them alongside a full, healthy meal plan.
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4. Manage Your Sleep Routine
Once you've got your nutrition in check it's time to look at natural remedies for menopause sleep problems. Less sleep can lead to more anxiety which can snowball into hot flashes.
Many of our nighttime routines consist of stimulating TV, overhead lights, and screen time in bed. Sounds great, right? Wrong.
The science on sleep suggests that piling up bright light exposure and excitement until the head hits the pillow leads to lower quality sleep. If you're already dealing with menopause-related sleep issues, lowering the quality of what little sleep you can get is the last thing you want.
The good news is that many of the best solutions for sleep issues are also about as natural as can be. That's right, just you and your body.
For a smoother wind-down, try some of the following:
- Dim the lights after sunset. If you can, try to set up short lamps with a warm glow and cut the overhead fluorescent lights.
- Cut down on caffeine. Not only will that afternoon cup of joe affect your sleep at night, but a Mayo Clinic study showed that it could also make hot flashes worse.
- No phones in bed. Your bedroom should be a soothing temple of sleep, not irritating social media scrolling.
Read a book or meditate. Adding these to your pre-sleep routine will help you land softly in dreamland rather than crash down after a Netflix binge.
5. Use a Weighted Blanket for Better Sleep and Anxiety Prevention
Another simple tool that may help with menopause sleep problems is a weighted blanket.
Also known as anxiety weighted blankets, they've been easing minds as a therapeutic tool for decades. Through deep touch pressure that simulates the best hug, they help your body naturally release serotonin to boost your mood and melatonin for your sleep.
They also may allow you to beat the heat as they help manage stress levels that can lead to hot flashes. Just be aware that the blanket design matters.
Bearaby’s weighted blankets are made with patented weighted yarn that doesn't trap heat like many other blankets' plastic pellet filling. That means that our weighted blankets can naturally aid your mood and sleep without pushing up the temperature.
If you tend to experience hot flashes at night, our cooling Tree Napper might be a good fit for you. It’s made of moisture-wicking TENCEL so that it can deliver calming pressure without overheating – because there’s a time and a place for sweat, as we’ll see next
One natural way to aid menopause symptoms such as sleep and weight fluctuation is getting more exercise.
One study from 2016 took 80 women from 40-65 years old who don’t normally exercise and separated them into two groups. According to the study, “Controlled and regular exercise for 12 weeks was significantly correlated with a positive change in vitality and mental health.”
You don’t need to bust out the barbells and sculpt an Arnold-like body to improve your sleep and mental health. The women in the study did a simple routine of walking, stretching, and resistance band training 3 times a week for 60 minutes. It’s that simple.
So try to get out and stay as active as you can manage. It’s yet another natural remedy for sleep issues in midlife.
7. Avoid Consuming Things That Make Menopause Symptoms Worse
While it's important to remember what the body needs more of, it's often just as important to remember what you need less of when it comes to dealing with menopause.
There's a long list of substances that aggravate symptoms like hot flashes, mental health issues, and weight gain, but here are a couple of the big baddies to avoid.
Even if you're not suffering premenopausal or menopausal symptoms there are plenty of good reasons to cut down on alcohol consumption. Studies show that it's a carcinogen, for one. It's also linked to mental health issues and weight gain.
As if all of that wasn't enough, it may also increase the number of hot flashes. For those suffering from menopause night sweats, cutting down on alcohol consumption in the evening should be one of the first stops.
Another item on the list of ‘things we don’t need another reason to quit’ is smoking.
A 2015 study that pulled data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2012 found that smokers reached menopause earlier than non-smokers. This leaves them at greater risk of bone and heart disease, as well as breast cancer.
Even if you’ve already entered menopause, you’ll still want to ditch the habit since smokers often experience worse hot flashes, menopause night sweats, and difficulty sleeping.
You may find that eating certain foods at night leads to an increase in hot flashes or mood swings. These are often referred to as “trigger foods.” Trigger foods vary from person to person, but foods that contain high levels of caffeine, spice, or sugar are worth watching out for.
To help determine your particular trigger foods, try being more mindful about what you eat within the few hours before bed. Once you’ve identified a pattern, experiment with removing the trigger foods or swapping them for other options. You might be surprised by what you discover!
When entering perimenopause and menopause, a number of symptoms like hot flashes, anxiety, weight gain, and bone weakness may rear their ugly heads. Take the fight to them with the natural diet and sleep remedies listed above, and you may be able to keep things under control.