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Health Issue: Menopause

Assistance and Comfort

Are there “natural” treatments available for menopause?

Some women try herbal or other plant-based products to help relieve hot flashes. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances from a plant). But, there is no proof that soy  —  or other sources of phytoestrogens  —  really do make hot flashes better. And the risks of taking soy  —  mainly soy pills and powders  —  are not known. The best sources of soy are foods such as tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and soy nuts.
  • Other sources of phytoestrogens. These include herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root. Again, there is no proof that these herbs (or pills or creams containing these herbs) help with hot flashes.

Products that come from plants may sound like they are safe, but there is no proof that they really are. There also is no proof that they are helpful at easing symptoms of menopause. Make sure to discuss these types of products with your doctor before taking them. You also should tell your doctor about other medicines you are taking, since some plant products can be harmful when combined with other drugs.

What is “bioidentical” hormone therapy?

This term means different things to different people. It’s really manmade hormones that are just the same as the hormones the body makes. There are several products with hormones like this that are on the market and are well-tested. But this term is most often used to mean drugs that are custom-made from a doctor’s order. These custom-made products are also known as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Despite product claims, there is no proof that BHRT products are better or safer than MHT drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). BHRT also can be expensive as many insurance and prescription programs do not pay for these drugs because they are viewed as experimental.

How much physical activity should I do?

An active lifestyle can lower your risk of early death from a variety of causes and help you maintain a healthy weight. It also might improve your mood and help you to sleep better. For older adults, activity can improve mental function. Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity

  • 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity

  • A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity

  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days of the week

If you are not active, ask your doctor what’s okay for you. Activity is important for everyone.

Contact your physician if :

  • You are spotting blood between periods
  • You have had 12 consecutive months with no period and suddenly vaginal bleeding begins again

If you need more information on menopause the internet is a great source of information on this subject and many, many more. You may also want to search the internet for social networking sites about menopause.  Many of the social network sites can connect you with people who have gone through or are going through what you are experiencing.