When women reach their forties and early fifties, they go through menopause, a transition to a new phase in their lives.

Menopause signifies the end of a woman’s childbearing years. Around age 50, a woman’s body begins to secrete less estrogen and progesterone and menstruation becomes irregular before stopping entirely. Shifts in hormone levels affect women both physically and psychologically, causing changes including mood swings, insomnia, vaginal dryness, night sweats and hot flashes.

Menopause is a unique experience for every woman with symptoms varying in type, duration and severity. The transition through menopause can take from as little as six months to three years or longer. Some women will encounter no difficulty going through menopause, and other women will experience menopause symptoms of such great severity that they experience fatigue, depression, tension, anxiety and interrupted sleep. Nature provides many natural solutions to ease a woman through this period in her life, and talking with a naturopathic physician will help determine the best options for an effective, individualized menopause treatment program to reduce discomfort during this experience.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a conventional approach to treating menopause using hormones of either natural or synthetic origin to compensate for the decline in estrogen production. However, HRT is not for every woman, as it is not recommended for women who are at risk for or have had breast cancer. Other reasons why women in menopause choose not to use HRT include choosing not take medication to treat a natural process, as well as the side effects of HRT. Half of all women who try HRT experience one or more of the following side effects: premenstrual irritability, bloating, cramps, menstrual bleeding, breast tenderness, depression, weight gain, headaches, abnormal uterine bleeding, and hair and skin changes. For this reason, roughly one out of three women will stop using HRT by the end of the first year. A naturopathic physician has a number of therapies and treatments available to cool and relieve hot flashes and other menopause problems. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, sprouts and legumes,contain the nutrients you need and should make up the majority of your meals and snacks. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day. If you suffer from hot flashes, try cutting back on caffeine and spicy foods, which could trigger hot flashes in some people. Watch your sodium intake and aim to cook most of your meals at home rather than eating out.

Some think that Aromatherapy inhalations may be applied to lessen the severity of hot flashes, as well as Ayurvedic techniques that cool the body. Flower remedies and essence therapies are available to help women achieve emotional balance, and herbal therapies can ease nervous tension. There are also homeopathic remedies a naturopathic physician may utilize to address specific menopausal symptoms, hydrotherapy to minimize hot flashes and ease tension and anxiety, juice therapy to alkalinize the body and relieve hot flashes, reflexology, yoga, relaxation and meditation exercises to help control the number and severity of hot flashes, as well as the necessary vitamin and mineral therapy to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms.

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