❑ Eat a diet consisting of 50 percent raw foods and take a protein supplement to help stabilize blood sugar. Add blackstrap molasses, soybean products, broccoli, dandelion greens, kelp, salmon with bones, sardines, and whitefish to your diet. Menopause Recommendations.
❑ Eat foods high in phytoestrogens, such as soybeans, flaxseeds, nuts, whole grains, apples, fennel, celery, parsley, and alfalfa. Soy and soy isoflavones may help to alleviate hot flashes associated with menopause. A high intake of phytoestrogens is thought to explain why hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms rarely occur among women in Asian cultures. If you have breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, or have had or are at risk for any of these, you may want to speak to your health care professional about the risks of increasing your dietary soy intake.
The term “male menopause” is often used in a joking way, sometimes as a dismissive substitute for “midlife crisis:’ But while men do not face the end of fertility in midlife as women do, they too undergo important physical and hormonal changes at that time. Menopause Recommendations. Men should not take male menopause—sometimes called andropause—lightly.
During male menopause, sex drive may weaken, anxiety may increase, and depression and moodiness may accompany a sense of failure. These symptoms can occur because of falling levels of testosterone.
Men’s testosterone levels begin to decline by the age of forty—earlier in some cases—and this may cause a loss of sexual desire, mood swings, and irritability, and may even increase the risk of heart disease. If low testosterone levels are a problem, testosterone replacement therapy may be prescribed. Before a man makes a decision about testosterone replacement, he should undergo a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test to look for signs of prostate cancer, and he should have a frank discussion with his physician about potential side effects. It is advisable also to check DHEA and estrogen levels (estrogen is a male as well as a female hormone) so that if therapy is needed, it can be tailored to the individual’s particular needs.
❑ Do not consume any animal products except for those recommended in this section. Avoid dairy products—limit your consumption to small amounts of low-fat yogurt or buttermilk. Dairy products and meat promote hot flashes.
❑ Make sure you take calcium and vitamin D as supplements to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Menopause Recommendations.
❑ Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, and hot soups and drinks; they can trigger hot flashes, aggravate urinary incontinence, and make mood swings worse. Menopause Recommendations. They also make the blood more acidic, which prompts the bones to release calcium to act as a buffering agent.
This is an important factor in bone loss. Menopause Recommendations.
❑ Get regular moderate exercise.
❑ Avoid stress as much-as possible.
❑ Substitute garlic or onion powder for salt when cooking. Consuming salt increases urinary excretion of calcium.
❑ Drink 2 quarts of quality water each day to help prevent drying of the skin and mucous membranes.
❑ For itching in the vaginal area, use vitamin E cream (with no fragrance added) or open a vitamin E capsule and apply the oil.
❑ If sexual intercourse is painful, try using vitamin E oil or aloe vera gel to lubricate the vagina.
❑ Gamma-oryzanol, a nutrient derived from rice bran, has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of menopause. A daily dose of 20 milligrams reduced symptoms by 50 percent in 67 percent of the women studied.
❑ In one study, taking soy isoflavones (40 to 80 milligrams per day) seemed to be effective at reducing the number of hot flashes in women who experience hot flashes frequently—ten or more a day. Most of the women had a 22 percent reduction in hot flashes. In another study, 60 milligrams of isoflavones from soy each day reduced hot flashes by 57 percent and night sweats by 43 percent. Check with your doctor before taking soy isoflavones as a supplement.
❑ Red clover has been the subject of five controlled studies. With mixed results as to their effectiveness in reducing hot flashes. Red clover contains phytoestrogens. Women should speak to their doctors before using red clover.
❑ Smoking is associated with early menopause.
❑ Frequent sexual intercourse can help relieve vaginal dryness.
❑ Some physicians recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to control severe symptoms caused by estrogen deficiency in menopausal and postmenopausal women. Although hormone therapy appears to be effective, it does have possible serious risks, which should be carefully considered. Investigators in the Women’s Health Initiative announced that estrogen increases the risk of stroke and might even raise the likelihood of developing dementia, although the hormone had no effect on breast cancer or heart disease.
❑ Be aware that research is ongoing in all aspects of replacement hormones—there is probably more conflicting information on this medical topic than there is about any other condition. It is essential to work with a good physician who can advise you about which of the vast array of products available may help you overcome any discomforts you may be experiencing.
❑ Conventional treatment for a problematic perimenopause is to prescribe a low-dose contraceptive. However, natural progesterone is a precursor to make estrogen in the body, and may be the answer during this period, rather than supplemental estrogen, because symptoms are often a result of estrogen dominance.
❑ After menopause, a reduction in the amount of the sex hormone estrogen can cause shrinkage of urethral and vaginal membranes, promoting incontinence. There may be a continuous dribbling of urine. Urethral dilation helps stretch a contracted urethra.
❑ It may be more important to replace progesterone than estrogen. Natural progesterone cream is a good way to do this.
❑ Some of the bioidentical hormones on the market are custom-mixed formulas containing various hormones that are chemically identical to those made naturally by the body. Saliva testing is often used to determine your particular need. They may offer some benefit, according to the North American Menopause Society. But they are not regulated for purity, potency, safety, or efficacy by the FDA. Other bioidentical hormones are made by drug companies and are sold in standard doses, and are approved by the FDA. FDA-approved bioidentical hormone therapies are:
• Estradiol (Estrace, Climara Patch, Vivelle-Dot Patch)
❑ Hypothyroidism is common in menopausal women. Many symptoms ascribed to menopause may be due to improper thyroid function.
❑ Symptoms of perimenopause are often mistaken for those of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Both PMS and perimenopausal symptoms are a result of an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone—specifically, rising estrogen and diminishing progesterone. If your menstrual cycles have changed—for example, if your periods are lasting for a longer or shorter time than they used to, or if they are irregular when they were not irregular before—it is more likely that you are perimenopausal rather than premenstrual. A blood test to determine your level of a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is also helpful in determining whether you are experiencing perimenopause. FSH levels increase as estrogen diminishes.
❑ It is important for menopausal and postmenopausal women to take measures to protect themselves against heart disease. Many women have been led to believe that taking estrogen protects against this disease. But there is very reasonable doubt about the protective benefits of synthetic estrogen against heart attacks.