What is Menopause?
Menopause refers to the physiological stopping of menstrual cycles that is associated with advancing age in species that experience such cycles. More specifically menopause occurs as the ovaries of the species stop producing estrogen, which in turn causes the entire reproductive system to slowly come to a halt. During this time of shutdown, the body is continually trying to adapt to the changing level of hormones which is the cause of the symptoms we commonly know:
– Increased depression
– Mood swings
– Lack of concentration
It isn’t uncommon for a woman to have increasingly scanty and random menstrual periods along with the above symptoms. The typical time for this cycle is about one year, but can swing to as little as 6 months, and to as great as 5 years in extreme cases. Physiological Menopause is part of a normal aging process, and on average occurs as 50.5 years of age. Some woman experience menopause at a younger age, at it should be noted that it can also be surgically induced by procedures like hysterectomy.
There is several different factors which can attribute the timeline of menopause. An example of such is: both fraternal and identical twins will on average reach menopause before other women; approximately five percent of twins will reach menopause before they turn forty. There is no way to predict in advance how long, or when menopause will exist, but if you spend some time going over it with your doctor you will be able to have a better idea.
Menopause can be the most trying and difficult period in a woman’s life. It usually occurs to a woman, who is in her late 40s. During menopause, the quantity of female hormones produced reduces significantly. This results in many physical and mental changes in a woman’s body like loss of calcium, hot flushes, dry skin, itchiness, and osteoporosis. However, women today are more aware of this phase of their life and willing to face it. They are ready to take menopause supplements that will help fight menopause. Menopause supplements help reduce many of the menopause symptoms and reduce the physical discomfort faced by several women.
Menopause supplements come in both natural forms and as medical supplements. It is always better to take a natural menopause supplement in the form of green vegetables. Natural ingredients also do not have any side effects compared to medicines. The advantage of natural estrogen is that it is not carcinogenic unlike medical supplements that can cause cancer.
Several plants like soy contain estrogen in the natural form. Soy contains isoflavones that can mimic estrogen and give good relief from hot flushes. One must take soy either raw or cooked to benefit from the isoflavones. The best source of isoflavones is pomegranates. Red clover, dong quai and licorice are other sources of plant estrogens that form natural menopause supplements.
One can consume these natural menopause supplements as whole fruits or vegetables or as pills available at pharmacists. One can eat soy flour or eat bread made from soy flour. Such products are now readily available in the market. Women can consume these products before the onset of menopause to get relief from hot flushes.
A woman can take menopause supplements in the form of hormone therapy. This therapy varies for every woman depending on her medical and family history. In this menopause supplement, the woman gets estrogen and progesterone in different doses according to her need. A woman with a uterus receives both hormones while a woman who has undergone a hysterectomy gets estrogen.
Women can take hormone replacement therapy in the form of oral medication or as topical application in the form of ointments. The dosage and frequency of the medicine depends on the individual. This menopause supplement should stop when the symptoms subside. This is because it can cause blood clots and breast cancer if taken over a long time.
There are several menopause supplements available in the market. These contain a mixture of soy and flax seeds. The fiber is good for digestion and one is consuming natural estrogen. Other experts recommend consumption of gingko, seaweeds and ginseng for relief from menopausal problems.
Nowadays there is a variety of menopause supplements available in the market. However, since they regulate the hormonal balance of the body one must take them carefully under a doctor’s guidance. A woman must choose the menopause supplement best suited for her condition and after a careful consideration of its side effects.
Menopause and Progesterone
Do women going through menopause have lowered levels of progesterone? Recent research tells us that women do suffer from decreased levels of progesterone and also experience other symptoms such as unexplained weight gain (particularly in the stomach area), depression, fatigue, hair loss, memory loss, mood swings, migraines and loss of libido. A natural cream can balance estrogen without side effects.
Progesterone and estrogen are the two main hormones made by womens ovaries when they are menstruating. Smaller amounts of these hormones are also secreted by the adrenal glands. It’s necessary for the survival of the fertilized ovum, its embryo as well as the fetus during gestation.
Progesterone’s primary functions include: acting as a precursor to estrogen and testosterone; it maintains uterine lining and aids in gestation; protects against fibrocystic breasts, endometrial and breast cancer; acts as a natural diuretic, helps use fat for energy; can be a natural antidepressant; aids thyroid hormone action; normalizes blood clotting; restores sex drive; normalizes blood sugar, zinc and copper levels; restores proper cell oxygen levels, has a thermogenic effect; builds bone and helps to protects against osteoporosis.
Some doctors feel that menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis and heart disease may not be due to a deficiency of estrogen, but to a relative estrogen excess due to progesterone deficiency.
Synthetic progestins, such as an HRT drug called Provera (a synthetic chemical), do not have the same biological effects as natural progesterone and have been known to cause side effects including: fluid retention, depression, breast tenderness, stroke, jaundice, blood clotting and cervical erosions.
On the other hand, natural progesterone has no known side effects and has been found to be helpful in alleviating symptoms such as PMS and hot flashes. It has also been credited with helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Many doctors now prescribe for women in menopause the use of a low-dose, natural progesterone cream during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. The cream is easily absorbed into thin-skin areas such as the breasts, inner arms, neck or belly by the subcutaneous fat and then released into the bloodstream. You should be careful of the dosage level in these products. Some may have none to very little and others provide 20-30 mg in an average application. It’s always best to first check with a doctor.