Sunday, June 15, 2008

Menopause Treatment Alternatives Vary Depending On Symptoms

For many years, the most highly recommended menopause treatment was hormone replacement therapy. However, a large study known as the Women?s Health Initiative found that long-term estrogen only or progesterone, estrogen combination therapies resulted in an increased risk of blood clots and stroke. Since, the first symptoms of menopause may appear years before actual menopause (which is when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months) alternative treatments may be the best choice.

Menopause signs, symptoms and conditions that may appear up to ten years before actual menopause include:

Irregular periods

The first symptoms of menopause that usually appear are changes in menstrual periods. These may be normal, but it is important to see your doctor regularly and report things like; heavy bleeding, periods that last several days longer or are more frequent than what you are accustomed to, and spotting between periods or after sex. Herbs that help to correct hormonal imbalances, including black cohosh, red clover and sarsaparilla, may help regulate and normalize periods. Black cohosh is one highly recommended alternative menopause treatment.

Mood swings, Depression, Anxiety

These emotional difficulties may be menopause signs/symptoms related to changing hormonal levels. They could be symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome if they occur in the last two weeks before a period. They can be caused by changing life situations or life events that cause cumulative stress. When mood swings, depression or anxiety affect your quality of life or your relationships, you should see your doctor, counselor or psychologist. If you have had suicidal thoughts, do not delay. An alternative menopause treatment that addresses emotional difficulties is 5-HTP. Used by the body to create serotonin, which regulates sleep, mood and sexuality, small amounts of 5-HTP are found in turkey and other foods and is an ingredient in some health supplements. Because, the action of 5-HTP is similar to prescription antidepressants, they should not be taken together, without consulting your doctor.

Increased symptoms of PMS, fatigue, breast tenderness

Fatigue and breast tenderness are some of the first symptoms of menopause, but are also symptoms of PMS, which (not to be repetitive) can be one of the first symptoms of menopause. Women who have never suffered from PMS sometimes start to see symptoms in their thirties. As with all of the other menopause signs/symptoms, other conditions should be ruled out, before assuming that you are suffering from PMS. The symptoms of PMS are believed to be caused by decreased levels of estrogen. Sometimes recommended as an alternative menopause treatment, phytoestrogens found in soy and red clover can help relieve the symptoms of PMS. Phytoestrogens are plant components that have an estrogen-like effect on the body.

Decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse

The majority of women report a decreased sex drive as one of the first symptoms of menopause, but some women notice an increase in sex drive. Depending largely on whether or not vaginal dryness causes pain during intercourse. Other changes in a woman?s body can cause discomfort during sex at this time and normal monthly changes of the cervix can cause pain in certain positions. Painful intercourse should always be reported to your doctor to rule out other causes. Tribulus terrestris is among the herbs recommended to increase sex drive, by regulating hormonal levels. Vaginal dryness can be relieved by using K-Y jelly or lotions. Among the newest varieties are ones that ?heat up? when applied and ones with pleasant fragrances. Changing positions can be more comfortable and more fun.

Urine leakage or urgency

Most women consider it a part of getting older, but this is one of the more embarrassing first symptoms of menopause. It can be related to other conditions, but is usually caused by decreased levels of estrogen in the body. An alternative menopause treatment that addresses this symptom is Kegel exercise, which strengthens the pelvic muscles. Other things that you can do include; losing weight if you are heavy, limiting caffeinated beverages, avoiding artificial sweeteners and train the bladder to gradually hold more urine (waiting longer before you go).

Hot flashes

You feel hot, for no reason. You may sweat more than usual. You may have red blotches on your face, neck and chest. Caused by changing estrogen levels (isn?t everything), these may not be the first symptoms of menopause that you notice, but they are some of the more easily recognizable ones. Black cohosh is an alternative menopause treatment that has been shown in numerous studies to effectively relieve these symptoms.

Night sweats

These are the same as hot flashes only that happen in bed at night and may wake you up, interrupting your sleep and possibly leading to the next symptom.


Difficulty sleeping may be caused by night sweats or many of the other menopause signs/symptoms. Though not recognized by many health care professionals as such, an alternative menopause treatment that addresses this symptom is 5-HTP, previously mentioned, it can improve the quality of sleep.

Not all women experience all of these menopause signs/symptoms and there are others that are not mentioned here, including headaches, body aches, joint pain and migraines. If you seek help when you notice the first symptoms of menopause, then you may be more comfortable throughout these years.

If conventional menopause treatment does not appeal to you, you are not alone. Many women, me included, seek alternative solutions. For more information about natural products that can help, please visit

Patsy Hamilton has more than twenty years experience in health care and currently writes informational articles for the Menopause and PMS Guide. Learn more about menopause and treatment options at

Labels: , , , , ,