Tracy was recently at the clinic bemoaning the fact that it’s been more than a full year since her menstrual cycle stopped, but the symptoms she thought would subside are stronger than ever. She just wanted to know when the hot flashes, weight gain, vaginal dryness and scattered thinking would end!
So many women experience the same thing and can’t understand why. Medical practitioners often fail to discuss what will happen post-menopause, and how women can feel better. This leaves women like Tracy wondering what is wrong with them. They think their hormones should have leveled out once they made it through that long year. But that’s just not how hormones work.
Your hormone levels and ratios do indeed change during menopause. But hormones don’t simply disappear; your body produces them for life, and any imbalances that remain will keep your symptoms showing up in full force. It’s up to us to find the optimal balance which will keep bones strong, sex lives thriving, slow hair thinning or loss, and help us avoid major health difficulties.
Are There Natural Post-Menopausal Treatments that Really Work?
There are plenty of natural solutions to help you find relief after menopause. You don’t have to live with these symptoms forever! Let’s take a look at nine common complaints that women have after menopause and I’ll offer some natural steps to take to help you balance your hormones and find the respite you desire.
Is it hot in here? Dealing with hot flashes when menopause has come and gone
In my decades of practice, I’ve talked to enough post-menopausal women to know that continued hot flashes are a very common experience. Some women continue to deal with this symptom well into their 70s. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s inevitable.
Usually, I find, these women have lives filled with anxiety, constant activity, or ongoing stress. Your ovaries reduce estrogen production after menopause, requiring your body to look for it elsewhere. Your adrenal glands should be able to support your body as you age, but sometimes by the time you get through menopause you’ve already depleted their resources, creating an imbalance that keeps you feeling the heat.
It’s essential to keep your hormones balanced throughout your life time. Good nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction are great places to begin, but you might need more support to balance out hormones that have been under fire for years. Supplemental nutrients and phytotherapeutic options that target these imbalances are a natural, gentle way to support your body and keep yourself cool.
My hair is falling out – what can I do to stop it?
Yes, hair loss happens to women! Thinning hair, or even substantial loss, happens to a lot of women post menopause. An imbalance between testosterone and estrogen might be behind this startling symptom, as could excessive stress or a deficiency of specific nutrients.
The first thing I ask about when a woman tells me her hair is thinning is nutrition. A low-glycemic-load diet, along with dietary supplements, can help reduce thinning or loss of hair and reset its growth cycle. Calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, B, C, D and E are all important, so a high-quality multivitamin like my Multi Essentials is a good place to begin.
I have to go NOW! What can I do about urinary incontinence?
This is a tough one to talk about for many women. If you find yourself needing to go more often, or more urgently, know that you aren’t alone; urinary incontinence is very common in older women. While these problems often have to do with thin or weak pelvic muscles and connective tissues, a number of other factors – which you have more control over – are also at play, including weight, food sensitivities, and insulin resistance.
Don’t be embarrassed to discuss urinary incontinence with your healthcare provider. The sooner you address it, the easier it is to take care of. Treatment might be as simple as a little topical estrogen cream a couple times a week. There are other natural options that can make a big difference, such as Kegel exercises, acupuncture, changing the way you eat, or pelvic physical therapy. That last one, in particular, has been a game changer for so many women I’ve treated! If none of those things work, you can consider a variety of other solutions, including surgical options that are minimally invasive and typically don’t require a long recovery period.
If I don’t have a menstrual cycle anymore, why am I bleeding?
First and foremost, if you have gone 12 months without a period and then experience spotting or bleeding again, it’s imperative that you schedule a visit with your OB/GYN as soon as possible. While post-menopausal bleeding or spotting can be caused by polyps, hormonal imbalance, and changes to the lining of the vagina or uterus – none of which are very serious – there could be a more acute condition at play. It’s best to rule these out first so you don’t miss something that needs immediate attention.
What’s happening to my vagina? Understanding and easing uncomfortable symptoms.
Almost every woman I’ve talked to about post-menopausal symptoms has told me she experienced unexpected changes in her vaginal area. Some symptoms are mild – itching or dryness, for instance – but others cause a great deal of discomfort. And when you’re experiencing pain, it’s likely that your desire for and pleasure in sex will be altered. Decreased estrogen production often creates changes that result in thinning and dryness of your vaginal wall tissues. This isn’t an easy issue to talk about, so you might end up suffering needlessly. But many of these problems are typically easy to address.
To relieve symptoms, you need to increase the resilience and thickness of your vaginal lining. Some easy ways to do so include making sure you are adequately hydrated, using a natural lubricant during intercourse, vitamin E suppositories, and phytotherapy. While those remedies can help, many women need something a little more potent to find relief; a bioidentical topical estrogen, such as Estriol, applied directly to the area, can provide the natural support you need. And don’t forget – your vagina is a muscle, and it needs regular use to stay healthy. So if you are up for it, regular sexual activity can be a great way to keep things working properly!
Why do I keep losing things?
It can be frustrating – and scary – when you find yourself constantly searching for the your car keys, glasses or the right word. You might wonder if this is the beginning of a serious memory issue. Menopause can trigger fuzzy thinking and lapses in memory due to changes in hormonal balance. An “always on” stress response can be behind this “foggy head.” If your body is dealing with constant stress, your cortisol levels will remain high, throwing your other hormones out of balance.
The good news is, these bouts of absent mindedness are often nothing to worry about, and when you bring your hormones back into balance, your symptoms are likely to fade. There are plenty of natural ways to clear your head and get back on track. Like with many symptoms, good nutrition, an active lifestyle, and getting better sleep work wonders on improving memory. Research has linked a diet replete with omega-3 fatty acids to mood stability and memory preservation in post-menopausal women, so be sure you’re getting plenty of these vital fats. And when you’re thinking of exercise don’t forget to give your brain a workout too! Finding ways to reduce your overall stress load can also help you regain focus and clarity.
I know sleep is important, but I just can’t stay asleep at night!
Sleep is so important to health, in so many ways. As you age, there are natural changes in your circadian rhythms. After menopause, your sleep-wake cycle could be impacted by a reduction in hormone production, including melatonin, progesterone, and estrogen – all of which influence your sleep patterns.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or having energy to get through your day take stock of factors that could be at play. Keep a sleep log for several weeks to identify what could be keeping you up – food, medication, stress, and beverages (particularly alcohol, or caffeinated beverages) can all play a part. Pay close attention to stress, in particular. Did you know that if you have high cortisol at night, your body simply can’t allow you to sleep? That’s why reducing stress – and cortisol levels – is critical.
Once you know some of the factors affecting your sleep you can look at how to shift these for natural sleep enhancement. You may need to change habits, create soothing rituals for bedtime, balance hormones with phytotherapy, or use a natural sleep aid, such as magnesium, valerian or passionflower.
Are my bones destined to be at risk?
Despite what many women have been told, osteoporosis and osteopenia are not an inevitable part of aging. Throughout – and after – menopause, there are plenty of ways to build bone and reduce your risk of fractures. It’s particularly important to be attentive to bone health in the years just before and after menopause, when bone loss rates tend to increase.
The best way to build bone strength is through great nutrition. Did you know that there are 20 essential bone-building nutrients your body needs? Top priorities include vitamins D, K1 and K2. And don’t forget to keep moving – anything you do to keep yourself active is great for maintaining muscle strength and supporting the natural bone resorption and formation process. Weight bearing exercise is particularly important to maintaining strong bones.
I can’t maintain a healthy weight. Help!
Reaching – and staying at – a healthy weight is so much more complicated than the old “calories in-calories out” theory. There are so many pieces at play, and when you eat well and exercise and still don’t see results, it can be disheartening. If this sounds familiar, you may have weight loss resistance. Imbalances throughout your body are sending the message to hold on to that extra weight.
Dysregulation in your hormones, adrenal glands, or neurotransmitters can all have an influence on weight loss resistance. It won’t be the same for every woman, so an important first step is to identify what’s going on in your body. My article Are You Someone with Weight Loss Resistance? offers more information and specific steps you can take to address the issue.
Nutrition is important, as always, and for weight-loss resistance, I recommend eating three well-balanced meals and two snacks per day, filling in any nutritional gaps with a high-quality multivitamin such as my Multi Essentials formula. Exercise can help, but don’t overdo it, and make sure you get plenty of rest and quality sleep.
Feeling Fantastic for Your Second Act
So many women I talk to find their groove in the second half of their lives. They tell me it’s time to do those things that have been put on the back burner for too many years. Often, they’ve only recently discovered exactly what it is they want to do – and they finally have some time to cultivate their talents.
I couldn’t agree more! That’s why it’s so vital to understand that feeling poorly is NOT a natural state during or after menopause. Taking some time to consider solutions for bothersome symptoms and find ways to support your physical and emotional help clears space for exploring all the amazing possibilities just waiting for you. When you find things you are passionate about, and feel good enough to pursue them, it’s curtains up on your second act!
Prepare Yourself with Natural Support
This is your time to shine, but if you’re wondering how to get there when you feel so lousy, I can help. My Menopause Program is specifically designed to help balance hormones and improve adrenal function to help combat the common symptoms that can leave you feeling frustrated and exhausted.
The Menopause Program includes my Multi Essentials with 17 nutrients to fill nutritional gaps; Menopause Support with herbs well known for easing symptoms of menopause, like black cohosh and chaste tree extract; and the Adrenal Support Formula, containing adaptogenic herbs to rejuvenate your adrenal glands.
With the right support, you’ll be well on your way to the most amazing second act you can envision!