Menopause refers to the period in a woman’s life (usually between the ages of 45 and 55) in which menstruation ceases and the ovaries begin producing less estrogen and progesterone. These sex hormones are significantly reduced during menopause. In the case of progesterone, production comes to a nearly complete halt, whereas estrogen is now at one tenth of its previous levels.
Many women report to feeling menopause-related symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, restlessness, severe mood swings, as well as dryness in the vagina. Other conditions such as osteoporosis, angina, and coronary artery disease can also become more prevalent after menopause.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Typically, medical doctors prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to counteract the symptoms women experience during menopause, or to prevent the onset of other conditions, such as osteoporosis. Treatment may be recommended for a short- or long-term basis. Hormone replacement therapy usually involves the taking of estrogen or estrogen in combination with progesterone. The synthetic hormone progestin is used as a substitute to progesterone. These medications can double the hormone levels in post-menopausal women. However, this form of therapy does not restore the natural, pre-menopause hormone levels.
Benefits and Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy
Studies looking at the risks and benefits of HRT often report that the overall risks of estrogen with progestin therapy outweigh the benefits. Hormone Replacement Therapy with estrogen and progestin may significantly increase the risk of dementia, blood clots, stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. Breast cancers were also found to cover a larger area and be at a more advanced state for women on HRT.
According to recent studies, the longer a woman is on HRT, the higher the risks. After five of more years of discontinuing the therapy, however, the risks return to normal levels.
There are also benefits of HRT. They include the relief of menopause-related symptoms, lower risk of having hip and spine factures, and reduced risk of developing colon cancer. For women with pre-existing heart disease, HRT has not been shown to be beneficial. Estrogen and progestin use also hasn’t been shown to affect women’s general health, vitality, mental health, or sexual pleasure.
Presently, research is being conducted on the risks and benefits of estrogen-only therapy, the use of different hormones, or different ways of administering the hormones.
Alternative Therapies to HRT
Hormone therapy can present short-term benefits, relieving many menopause-related symptoms. Even so, many symptoms disappear on their own terms, requiring no treatment. There are also significant risks around the use of HRT, and it has not proven beneficial for long-term use. Besides, there are alternative approaches.
For a start, one can exercise regularly, make sure to eat a balanced diet, and maintain a healthy lifestyle – and not smoking is crucial. In order to decrease the risks of bone loss, taking supplements of calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis is also recommended. Calcium and vitamin D may also have a beneficial effect on the hip, spine, wrist fractures, and colon cancer.
When taking a calcium supplement, look for one that has a high-absorption ability and one that is a citrate, succinate, fumarate, glutarate, malate, or a Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate. The recommended dose for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for post-menopausal women who take estrogen; 1,500 mg a day is the dose for postmenopausal women who don’t take estrogen, and those 65 years and older.
If you don’t presently exercise, begin a regular exercise program. Exercise helps keep your bones healthy, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Swimming, walking, aerobics, bike riding, and tai chi are all beneficial. Exercising for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, can greatly improve your overall health.
Other foods and supplements can help reduce the risk of menopause-related ailments, including soy-based products, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, black cohosh, dong quai, vitamin E, vitamin B complex, and hormone creams.
Contact your Chiropractic Doctor
Chiropractic doctors are licensed experts aware of current research on menopause-related symptoms and hormone treatments. Your chiropractic doctor can help you learn ways to boost your overall health and relieve your symptoms the natural way, and may also design an exercise program especially suited to your needs. He or she can make invaluable suggestions to relieve your symptoms.