“So many women I've talked to see menopause as an ending. But I've discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It's your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time and talent.”
The change is a time for women that is shrouded in way too much mystery. It is dreaded, mocked, and only whispered about with the closest of friends or doctors. Often is looked down upon as a woman ages, but it should not be that way.
Menopause is an ordinary condition that all women go through, and it symbolizes the end of a woman's reproductive days — but that’s it. It does not signal the end of a woman’s life, but the beginning of another chapter. A chapter that is full of possibility and positive changes now that childbearing days are over. It is not to be mourned, but to be celebrated!
Menopause: The Definition
According to the Mayo Clinic, menopause occurs "after you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period.” Most often it happens in the mid-40’s or 50’s. While the beginning of your period cycles is usually easily recognized, menopause is more of a transition period instead of an event. There are three usual time framesthat a woman passes through during menopause.
- Perimenopause – Happens over many years as the body begins to make small changes in their menstrual cycle. Some cycles may be later than usual or the flow is different. It is during this time the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. Typically this begins in the late ’30s and early ’40s.
- Menopause – At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. Menstrual flow stops, and the usual menopause-like symptoms start to appear (such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness).
- Post-menopause – This is the time after the last menstrual flow, and it is often seen as a return to normal life. The symptoms are lessening as the body has adjusted to the changes. Traditionally, post-menopause occurs between 55 and 60 years of age, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The Effects on Health that Menopause Can Bring
The decrease in estrogen has several adverse effects on the body, and they can manifest as uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms. Most women know that there will be hot flashes and night sweats; they are not aware that there are more symptoms as well.
Dry and itchy skin
Bone density loss
- Cardiovascular disease
Ways to Treat the Symptoms of Menopause
While most women find the above symptoms manageable, there are a few who experience severe or prolonged symptoms. These women can choose amongst some varied options.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Some women choose to take replacement hormones to deal with the many symptoms of menopause. HRT can be a combination of progesterone and estrogen or only estrogen alone.
While HRT effectively treats menopausal symptoms, there are significant issues associated with this treatment option:
Both types of HRT increase the risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs.
It also raises the risk for women to have a stroke by 30 percent.
After five years of use, combined HRT increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Concerns regarding HRT have led to many women exploring natural remedies for the management of their menopausal symptoms.
Five Natural (Non-hormonal) Remedies
Black cohosh – This has received quite a bit of scientific attention for its potential in reducing hot flashes. However, studies have produced mixed results. Certain women may find that it helps with mild hot flashes and night sweats as a short-term treatment option.
Soy – Contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). While current scientific literature is still inconclusive, some studies have noted that soy may be useful in reducing occurrences of hot flashes and night sweats.
Vitamin E – Topical vitamin E applied to the vagina helps improve lubrication, and oral supplementation may reduce hot flashes.
Acupuncture — The British Medical Journal found that just six weeks of treatments helped to reduce moderate-to-severe symptoms in women struggling with menopausal symptoms.
Edible Bird’s Nest (EBN) — is a new and intriguing option for women; keep reading to learn more about this as we’ll dive into more detail below.
The Benefits of EBN for Menopausal Women
Balances Out Hormones
The Asian Journal of Chemistry found that the black and white Swiftlet’s nests contain six hormones, which are testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and prolactin.
The in-vivo study suggests that since estradiol, which is found in EBN, “may benefit postmenopausal women” who are struggling to deal with changing hormonal levels.
Decreases Cardiovascular Risk
Estrogen is not just a hormone that affects a woman’s reproductive organs. It is used throughout the whole body. One of its lesser-known roles is to help relax and open the blood vessels. It also plays a role in the maintenance of a healthy balance of cholesterol. When cholesterol builds upon the artery walls, it increases the risk of a cardiovascular disease.
Drug Design, Development and Therapy published an in-vivo study about EBN's capacity to balance insulin and lower glucose and lipid levels in the body. This is important because these improved levels could help decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases in women instead of estrogen therapies.
Slows Down Osteoporosis
Declines in estrogen levels cause women to lose bone mass more quickly in comparison to the pre-menopausal period. Essentially, this exposes menopausal women to higher risks of osteoporosis – a condition where bones become brittle and break easily. Menopausal women are at a higher risk for hip fractures in comparison to those who have not experienced menopause.
Women who wish to prevent menopausal-related osteoporosis may benefit from EBN. An in-vivo studypublished in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry has demonstrated that EBN treatment strengthened the bones and improved calcium concentrations.
EBN treatment has even shown possible superiority over functional foods, such as soybeans, in the prevention of osteoporosis. This is because it does not increase circulating estrogen levels in the body, which has been associated with higher breast cancer risks.
Improves Mental Functions
The difficulty thinking and remembering that many women complain about during menopause are real; they’re not making it up. “Up to 60 percent of women report memory issues as they go through menopause,” says Julie Dumas, a psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont. Thankfully, the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction will eventually disappear with time. However, for women who experience more severe cognitive disruptions, and are unwilling to ride out the frustrating period, EBN might be of help.
The article published by the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that EBN treatment conferred powerful neuroprotective effects against estrogen-deficiency related cognitive decline. It was also shown to be better than traditional estrogen therapy: similar brain-benefitting results were observed.
One additional note, that was not expected, the EBN caused less toxicity to the liver as compared to estrogen. This was a definite plus as HRT can be difficult for the liver to metabolize correctly.
Menopause is a normal part of every woman’s life. While it can be difficult for some, it is not a death sentence but merely another chapter of your life. There are many options that you should learn about to help you through this time because you do have choices such as natural supplements, acupuncture, and EBN. You do not have just to learn to live or suffer with the symptoms.
What have you tried that has helped with your menopause symptoms? Did anything stand out to you in this article? Let us know in the comments and share with a friend! Let’s help each other out!