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Menopause: The Basics

If you're a woman entering menopause today, you're not alone. There are an estimated 5,400 American women going through the same experience, so you have a lot of company... Menopause is normal, a natural state that all women go through. And, happily, the view is shifting as more women see menopause as the beginning of a new phase of life, rather than the end of an old one.

Low Estrogen Levels are Common
During menopause, estrogen levels tend to drop off by as much as 50%. Menstrual cycles stop as ovarian function decreases, due to lowering estrogen and progesterone levels. This stage can occur anywhere from age 35 to 58, although the average age is 51.

Of course, every woman's experience is unique. Some of the signs and symptoms of menopause may appear gradually, while others seem to rush up all at once.

Symptoms include:

Hot Flashes
Most women approaching menopause, about 75% to 80%, experience hot flashes. When estrogen levels drop, blood vessels can expand quickly. Hot flashes occur when these blood vessels along the skin, peripheral blood vessels, dilate and increase skin temperature. They are most common in the first few years of menopause.

Hot flashes are easy to recognize, and can last for half a minute to half an hour:

  • A feeling ranging from mild warmth to intense heat spreading through the upper body to the face.
  • Flushing and rapid heartbeat.
  • Perspiration.
  • Chilliness once the "flash" has subsided.

Occasional Sleep Disturbances
Night sweats,  which are simply hot flashes after dark are fairly common menopausal symptoms.†  Not getting a  restful night's sleep can really affect you the next day.

Mood Swings
This can be linked to the changes in hormone levels, occasional sleeplessness and other stresses typical of menopause.†

Natural Menopause Relief - Time (and Science) Tested†
Menopause symptoms don't take convenient breaks, day or night. What's more, having nighttime symptoms can make daytime symptoms like irritability, fatigue and lack of energy even worse.†

The well-studied natural relief for menopausal symptoms is black cohosh.† Black Cohosh, (Cimicifuga racemosa) is native to North America, and was used by Native Americans for centuries. Today, the herb has been researched in multiple scientific studies.

 Black cohosh, provides natural relief of occasional hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.† In clinical trials, the occurrence of hot flashes while taking black cohosh decreased from an average of 4.9 per day down to an average of less than one per day.† Recent laboratory research shows that black cohosh binds to estrogen receptors, and is a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy.†

Other herbal and tea-based extracts, including green tea and valerian, can support energy levels during the day and encourage restful sleep at night.†

Menopause Tips:

  • Unwind for a good night's sleep.
    Warm baths can help. Add some chamomile or lavender scented oil to the water to enhance its "relaxability."
  • Dress for the "heat.".
    Wearing layers of natural fibers that breathe easy can make a big difference. The layers allow for simple adjustments to temperature, whether internal or external.
  • Watch the diet.
    Some foods simply trigger hot flashes more than others. Hot or spicy foods, high sugar foods and caffeine and alcohol seem to add to the potential for hot flashes.
  • Exercise.
    Keeping active during menopausal years is important. Brisk walking for half an hour or more each day during the week, if possible.
  • Keep the air moving.
    Buy a little fan to put at your desk at work. It will circulate the air, but help keep your mind fresh and alert, and give you a breeze when you need it.

One of the best tips of all is to laugh every day and keep your sense of humor.  There are many books and websites that feature the humorous side of this natural change of life.  Most importantly, look into safe, tested, natural products for relief of your menopausal symptoms.†

Published September 02, 2010
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Related Answers
Is there a supplemental alternative for hormone balance?†
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