Woman With Menopause
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  • Health
  • 05.01.22

Beyond HRT – managing the symptoms of menopause

As a woman, we’re all too familiar with the symptoms of menopause. From a young age, we hear older women recount the details of their hot flushes, night sweats, irregular menstrual cycle and mood fluctuations. While menopause is a natural stage in life, it can also be a very difficult time, with every woman’s experience inherently different.

About menopause

Women commonly go through natural menopause between the age of 45 and 60, but it can also occur after the ovaries are surgically removed, or following chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Menopausal symptoms include:

  • Change in menstrual cycle.
  • Hot flushes and night time sweats.
  • Joint pain and fatigue.
  • Overactive bladder.
  • Insomnia.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Mood swings and/or anxiety.

How to manage symptoms of menopause

Menopausal symptoms can be managed in a number of ways, but one of the most common ways is through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). HRT treats the symptoms of menopause. It is a medication that contains the hormones (oestrogen) that  women’s bodies stop producing when they reach menopause. HRT medication can also contain a progestogen that protects the uterus lining from cancer.

Although HRT is one of the most effective ways to treat menopausal symptoms, for some women it’s not suitable, particularly if you have had oestrogen-dependent cancer, or other conditions such as thrombosis, unmanaged blood pressure, unmanaged high blood pressure or untreated thickening of the uterine lining.

Doctors may also choose to prescribe non-hormonal medication such as antidepressants.

Complementary ways to manage menopausal symptoms

Some women seek alternative ways to manage their menopausal symptoms. Some complementary ways that may help to reduce menopausal symptoms include:

Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce some of the symptoms of menopause.

Eating a balanced diet, exercising, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake and getting adequate sleep can help your mood and reduce other symptoms such as hot flushes and anxiety.

Modifying the types of fat you consume and increasing your fibre intake can help to regulate severe fluctuations in hormones and ease the symptoms of menopause. Consuming foods high in phytoestrogens (e.g. tofu, soy milk, humus) may help to lower the severity of menopausal symptoms, with no adverse effects (i.e. cancer risk).

Herbal remedies

While there’s still a lot of research needed into herbal remedies, there are a range of herbs that a herbalist or naturopath may prescribe to treat menopausal symptoms. These herbs may help relieve some of the symptoms including insomnia, mood changes, fatigue and hot flushes. Herbs may interact with other medications, so it’s important to have them prescribed by a qualified natural therapist. Some herbal remedies for menopause include:

Hot flushes

  • Black Cohosh
  • St John’s Wort
  • Hops
  • Red Clover

Mood swings, fatigue and insomnia

  • Korean Ginseng
  • Chamomile
  • Hops
  • Lemon Balm
  • Valerian
  • Passionflower
  • St John’s Wort

Vaginal dryness and low libido

  • Korean Ginseng
  • Maca
  • Tribulus

At Grace, our gynaecologists also treat vaginal atrophy (or dryness) with a special machine called the Mona Lisa Touch which uses mild heat to stimulate natural regeneration of vaginal tissue, structure and blood supply for lasting results.

Acupuncture

Some women opt to use acupuncture to treat some of the symptoms of menopause including sleep disturbances, hot flushes, anxiety and mood changes.

Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness and meditation practices are helpful for all women, but can be especially helpful for women going through menopause. Meditation can help calm anxiety and help with other psychological symptoms associated with menopause. If you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause and would like to find out more, speak with ‘Grace’. Our team of highly skilled and experienced gynaecologists offer an integrated approach to women’s healthcare and specialise in the management of a variety of conditions, including the management of menopausal symptoms.

At Grace Private we believe every woman deserves to live her best life and we’re here to guide and support you through your healthcare journey. For a referral to one of our experienced doctors, ‘ask for Grace’ when you next visit your GP.