Wondering why no one told you how menopause can be exhausting, perplexing and challenging, yet also transformative and enlightening – all at the same time? Well, the truth is that menopause is not a one size fits all experience. In fact, there are more than 34 symptoms of menopause that can pop up and creep in at different times and when you least expect it. And therefore, the treatment plan that will work best needs to be customized to the individual. There is obviously a TON to cover here when it comes to menopause management, but let’s start with an overview of a few basic points:
- Diet: It’s important to limit processed foods and added sugars as a general rule, but especially during menopause. Basically, stay away from anything that comes in a package. Diversify your diet with a wide range of healthy whole foods including veggies and healthy fats. It also helps to increase intake of organic soy products and flaxseed, both which boast mild estrogenic effects.
- Exercise: NOW is the time to add some strength training to maintain lean muscle mass. Moving everyday is essential, whether it’s a 10-minute walk outside or a jog up and down the stairs between meetings.
- Sleep is also key, and needs to be prioritized. 7 hours or more is ideal, although the quality of the sleep is more important than the quantity. Try to limit caffeine and alcohol in the 3 hours prior to bedtime.
- Taking a holistic approach to perimenopause and menopause is often the preferred method of management for many women. This does NOT have to mean that we throw all of our conventional medication in the trash. But rather, we may consider starting with such proven therapies as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and supplements either as a jumping off place or alongside traditional medications and hormonal therapies. Do be advised however, that the supplement industry in the United States is not regulated by the FDA – and it is therefore crucial to make sure you are purchasing your supplements from a vetted, 3rd party verified and reputable source. It is also important to know that supplements are not totally benign – they can have side effects and interact with other medications, and should always be discussed with a medical provider prior to starting.
- Undoubtedly, the most effective therapy for menopause is hormone replacement therapy. This usually means taking supplemental estrogen and possibly progesterone to balance out what the body is no longer producing. Despite what most women are led to believe (and in the wake of the Women’s Health Initiative Study from 2002, which gave HRT an undeserved bad rap) hormone replacement therapy is safe and effective for the majority of women in menopause. Bioidentical hormones, that are considered natural and also FDA-approved are the preferred approach at Maze.
- As with all medications, there ARE risks and benefits. HRT can improve hot flashes, night sweats, sleep, mood, sexual function, bone density and cardiovascular risk. While there may be a very small increase in breast cancer risk, the North American Menopause Society considers HRT to be safe for most women when started prior to age 60 and within 10 years of menopause.
Okay, so at this point you might be thinking to yourself- what is the right treatment plan for my specific medical history, stage and symptoms? The best (and only) way to know is to seek a consultation from a practitioner who specializes in menopause. Unfortunately, only 1 in every 5 gynecologists in the United States received ANY training in menopause during medical school. Luckily, Maze Women’s Health has your back. We are proficient (and certified!) in everything related to menopause including lifestyle modifications, mood management, supplements, breast cancer risk assessment, hormone replacement therapy and more. Menopause will happen to EVERY woman or person with ovaries, and it can be one of the most profound and impactful times of your life.
Let us partner with you, as you make it the best possible experience it can be. Contact us for a Free Phone Consult.