No to HRT??
2021 and 2022 have been the years of the Menopause awareness campaigns. It is great, we have had MP’s talk about, the press, celebs, women campaigning – the MENOPAUSE and the symptoms women experience is finally being highlighted. Fantastic!
However, sorry, there is always a ‘however’!! Whilst HRT is great and has supported and helped a LOT of women, there are still a LOT of women who either can’t take HRT or they really do not want to. It may be that they are still suspicious of it OR they have a family member who had breast cancer or maybe just that they do not like taking any sort of medication. These women are not being listened to or supported enough.
I feel it is really important to look at what other options there are to support menopausal women during this transition. Be aware – it is still a massive topic and I will only briefly go through the options here today & in follow up blogs.
Lets have a look at some of the alternatives:
- Herbs & natural remedies
- Good nutrition
- Acupuncture, aromatherapy, CBT, hypnosis
- Mental health & self care
- Most importantly – you do have to do something if you are not eating well or exercising. You do need to take a positive decision that it is time to look after YOU and your body in the menopausal years – that is whether you are on HRT or not.
Herbs & Natural remedies
Obviously, food & herbs can not replace your lack of hormones, oestrogen or progesterone, but there are a few things you can try to help relieve symptoms. Some things can work for a while, some things help some women but not others- we are ALL different so one thing may work for someone but not another.
You need to be careful with some herbs as you should only use them for a short period of time or see a nutritionist/herbalist.
The benefits of herbal & natural remedies goes back to ancient times. There are too many to suggest but these are some of the herbs that can be used (though if you want to do it properly I would use a natural therapist). You do need to be aware of any contra-indications if taking other meds.
Here are just a few herbs that can help hormones and symptoms – BUT you need to look into any potential side affects & how long to take them for
- Red Clover – can help with hormonal balance. It can encourage the beneficial oestrogen-like compounds which are naturally in your body after the menopause. Not to be taken for a long period of time.
- St Johns’s Wort – helps balance women’s hormones by improving liver function & digestive health. The liver & digestive health play an important role in hormone manufacture & breakdown. Not to be taken for a long period of time
- Sage – easily grown. Add it to your foods or make a sage tea. This can help hot flushes for some
- Black Cohosh – can help reduce hot flushes & help balance your mood. BUT don’t take it for long periods of time
- Dandelion – can help with energy & digestion. Can be added to foods, but check how.
- Maca Root – can help with poor libido, can help concentration & provide energy
Essential Oils – they have also been known to help, especially with helping mood. You do need to buy good quality oils to get the benefit and store them in a cool, darker space. (The good quality oils are not cheap though!).
Best to use a diffuser and burn the oils with some water for a while. Some of my favourites which can help mood, calm anxiety, boost energy & help with sleep:
- Clary Sage
- Rose / Rose Geranium
Again this is very much a personal choice. Some of you may like reflexology, some may like acupuncture others may like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral therapy) or hypnosis. They are all known to help with menopausal symptoms.
1st – always look into reputable therapists – get recommendations (i always have some if you are Bristol based) or look up the national bodies to find a therapist who works with menopausal women.
2nd – look into the best sort of therapy for the main symptoms you have. Get in touch with the therapist and check that they do work on the main symptoms you want to work on.
Three clinical trials have been done on women with anxiety. One CBT session a week for 4 – 6 weeks was shown to help anxiety and for some it also helped hot flushes, night sweats and sleep. This has really worked for one of my clients too. You can be referred through the NHS – it is a long waiting time but you can get treatment through the NHS.
The British Menopause Society even recommends a book on CBT self- help menopausal symptoms – https://www.routledge.com/Managing-Hot-Flushes-and-Night-Sweats-A-Cognitive-Behavioural-Self-help/Hunter-Smith/p/book/9780367853037
This is SO important. Whether you are on HRT or not, you HAVE to start taking more care of yourself. This means a bit more TLC – rest and recovery, ‘me-time’ and prioritising something nice for you.
Very often menopausal women have their family to manage, their home, work AND their elderly parents. You WILL run out of energy, not sleep because of worrying etc etc – you get what I am saying.
Therefore, you really do need to take a bit more time for yourself. Take a look at what you would like to do, when you could possibly fit something in and let your family know you are doing something for YOU!!!
My next blog I will look more at nutrition and exercise/movement so look out for part 2!