SMALL armies of women are becoming HRT tourists to stock up on patches due to severe shortages of this menopause treatment in the UK according to the Daily Mail. In a panic over empty shelves back home, they are making mercy dashes to Spain where they can pick up a four month supply for as little as €58.
We may be awash with HRT supplies here, but many women prefer more natural remedies. We look at the alternatives that can help.
Menopause – all women go through it, yet for years it seemed a taboo subject. Something you just got on with. The lucky ones sail through without much ado, but for others, this upheaval of hormones can spark many symptoms – physically and emotionally. Much is written about hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. Many women say they feel angry with the world – for no reason.
There is HRT, but these days more and more women are looking for natural solutions rather than putting synthetics into their bodies. Teresa Henry who runs Slender Health Clinic in Fuengirola on the Costa Del Sol, says she has seen an increase in women coming to her for natural solutions to help ease menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms.
“As a nutritional therapist, I look at what my clients eat, their lifestyles, their emotional wellness and from there I can work with them to rebalance their hormones.
“Often just being able to talk about how you are feeling and have someone listen can be of enormous help. It’s about having the permission to put yourself first and take care of yourself. Something women are not always good at doing.”
She continues: “A client came to me recently as her mood swings and feelings of anxiety and anger had got worse.
“She was skipping meals, not getting quality sleep, drinking three bottles of wine a week. As a mum of three, she was juggling family and work life and taking on more and more. She was feeling emotionally and physically overwhelmed. Her anxiety levels were getting out of control. She was overly worrying about her kids – not just the natural day to day worries parents have. This was much more. She was also struggling with her weight and wanted to lose 12kgs.
“I was conscious of not overwhelming her even further with a complicated plan. Instead I looked at how best to balance her blood sugar levels oestrogen levels with a simple eating plan combined with nutritional supplements. “I also asked her to keep a journal about her moods, feelings and eating patterns.
“Six weeks later, she had lost 7kgs and said being aware of what she was putting into her body and journaling her emotions and eating patterns had really helped.
“With a consistent re-balancing eating plan, she was able to start getting control back over her body and hormones and felt much more positive.”
Here are the top ten obscure symptoms of menopause and their remedies:
1. Dry irritated skin
Hot flushes, night sweats and ever changing moods – all annoying but well documented symptoms of menopause.But there are lesser known side effects that you may be going through.
Falling oestrogen levels means the skin’s collagen levels become depleted very early on in the menopause. This can leave you with dry, flaky and itchy skin from head to toe, as well as lacklustre locks and brittle nails.
What can help – Moisturise, moisturise and then moisturise some more. The thicker and greasier the cream, the more it will help soothe your dry skin.
2. Burning tongue
Having a burning sensation in your mouth or on your tongue isn’t uncommon. The under-researched condition – actually called Burning Mouth Syndrome – can cause pain, altered taste and a drop in saliva production.
What can help – Use only alcohol-free mouthwashes. Increase foods containing Vitamin B such as bananas, lentils, liver, turkey, tuna. Add iron rich foods to your diet like spinach and broccoli). As burning mouth during menopause is associated with hormonal imbalance, natural menopause relief supplements may assist in bringing about a natural balance to your hormone levels.
3. Heart flutters
Surges in hormones during menopause can cause heart palpitations while your body rebalances, most common in perimenopause when the largest shifts in hormone levels occur. Symptoms include short-lived episodes of heart racing, pounding, fluttering or beating irregularly. Usually these are nothing to worry about, but see your doctor if you need reassurance
What can help – Cutting back on stimulants like caffeine based drinks, alcohol and cigarettes. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, and breathing exercises.
4. Losing that loving feeling
Many women say their libido went on an extended vacation through the menopause. And everything was as dry as a desert. Sex can became more painful and many women try to avoid it. Added to this there is the emotional side of menopause where in an age fixated society many women say they don’t feel as sexually attractive.
What can help – Use a natural lubricant every day and before being intimate. Again remember you are not the only one going through this. Take a look at Menopause Goddess, a series of blogs by other women going through the same thing. One women in the group said her therapist told her to show up to the bedroom once a week, naked and with a smile on her face and see what happens. She said it was the best advice ever!
5. Good news – you get more creative
Despite the emotional upheaval, one surprising side effect of menopause is that many women may feel more creative than before.
What you can do – Try something new just for the fun of it. Its not about how good you are, its about enjoying yourself and discovering new passions.
6. Dry mouth and toothache
Alongside vaginal dryness and parched skin, your mouth can also become drier during the menopause, which can subsequently lead to tooth issues. When your mouth isn’t lubricated, bacteria grows at a faster rate which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
What can help – Certain food types dry out your mouth. The list includes spicy food, crusty bread or dry biscuits and crackers. Caffeine and alcohol also have a dehydrating effect, so try to limit consumption of such drinks, and instead drink plenty of water. You may find that you need a bottle of water with you all the time, to keep your mouth moist, and while this may seem a bit of a nuisance, your kidneys will love you. Sucking pieces of ginger can also help stimulate salivary production.
7. Short sharp shocks
Many women have documented feeling short sharp electric shocks on their skin. This isn’t yet completely understood, but it’s thought it could be down to hormonal imbalances affecting how the brain interprets and sends messages to and from the nervous system.
What can help – Drink plenty of water. Reduce caffeine and alcohol. Eat more phytoestrogenic foods like chickpeas, flax seeds, dried apricots, green tea. Consider supplements. If you worry you may not be getting the nutrients you need, adding Vitamins B and E, plus calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
8. Allergic reactions
Even if you haven’t experienced allergies in the past, hormonal imbalances during the menopause may be the cause of a sudden sensitivity. From eczema and hay fever to food allergies, developing mid-life allergic reactions isn’t uncommon.
What can help – Drink chamomile tea for hay fever, ginger for nasal and throat inflammation. If your allergies are severe see your pharmacist or doctor.
9. Joint pain
Oestrogen plays a role in managing inflammation levels throughout the body, so without it, women are more at risk of developing joint pain which, in some cases, can lead to acute arthritis.
What can help – Try and maintain a healthy weight. Do low impact exercises such as swimming, yoga and cycling. Make sure you are getting the correct levels of vitamin D, calcium and magnesium in your diet. Take a Glucosamine supplement (1500mg daily try for a month), it’s derived from shellfish so be careful if you are allergic to this.
10. Feeling isolated
It’s not uncommon for the menopause to leave you feeling isolated and alone. As physical symptoms accumulate and intensify, they can knock your confidence and create feelings of anxiety, depression and loss of hope about the future, causing you to withdraw emotionally.
What can help – Yoga, tai chi, meditation, and massage are all relaxing activities that can help reduce stress. They may also have the added benefit of helping you sleep better at night. Seek Support Groups. Your friends and family members may provide you with valuable social support. However, sometimes it helps to connect with other women in your community who are also going through menopause. Remember you are not alone.