Menopause signifies the completion of her reproductive years and the permanent cessation of her menstrual cycle. This occurs due to a decline in ovarian follicular activity resulting in the absence of eggs being produced by the ovaries and the production of both oestrogen and progesterone declines.
The decline in oestrogen levels disrupts the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis and a consequent inhibition of endometrial development leading to menstrual cycle irregularity and eventually complete cessation of menses.
Menopause: refers to a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Generally occurs between the ages of 45-55 with an average age of onset around 50 years. Causes:
- Spontaneous (natural menopause)
- Iatrogenic (secondary menopause)
- Surgical (removal of both ovaries)
- Ovarian failure (from chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
Perimenopause: the transition from reproductive life to the first year of post-menopause, which occurs over several years and is characterised by hormonal fluctuations and biological changes.
Post-menopause: A menstruation-free period of 12 consecutive months
Note, these will vary substantially between individuals so this is just for a guide only.
- Vasomotor: hot flushes, night sweats
- CNS: sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, cognitive changes, migraines
- Skin/hair: reduced skin thickness, elasticity, hydration, hair loss, increased wrinkling
- Metabolic: weight gain, increased visceral adiposity, increased waist circumference
- Urogenital: vaginal dryness, vulvar itching and/or burning, urinary frequency/urgency, recurrent UTIs, low libido
- Muscular: joint pain, sarcopenia
Depending on severity, physical and psychological symptoms of menopause impact differently on a woman’s physical, mental, social and professional life.
Naturopathic Treatment Aims
Note, treatment will be tailored based on an individual case-by-case basis.
- Reduce and prevent hot flushes and night sweats
- Support nervous system, HPA axis and adrenal glands
- Relieve insomnia
- Address anxiety and depression if present
- Support liver function and lipid metabolism
- Support cognitive function
- Support libido and sexual function
- Ensure healthy weight management
- Support healthy aging
- Provide antioxidant support
- Improve/support bone health
A comprehensive naturopathic treatment approach to menopause incorporates the use of herbal medicine, nutrients/supplementation, and dietary and lifestyle advice in order to address the complex set of interrelated system imbalances.
- Black Cohosh: manages hot flushes, night sweats
- Chaste tree: relieves excessive perspiration, hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances
- Korean ginseng: supports nervous system/adrenals, cognitive function, libido and sexual function
- Sage: reduce hot flushes, night sweats
- Kava: relieve insomnia, address anxiety/depression if present
- Licorice: support nervous system, HPA axis and adrenal glands
- Rosemary: support liver function and lipid metabolism, improve antioxidant status
- Green tea: antioxidant, supports healthy aging
- Withania: support nervous system
- St John’s Wort/Saffron: reduce depression
- Ensure healthy weight management through eating a whole food based diet following the principles of an Anti-Inflammatory Mediterranean style of eating as it includes an abundance of fresh fruit & veg, dietary fibre, oily fish, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to support overall wellbeing
- To support bone health and prevent the risk of osteoporosis (which commonly occurs due to the loss of oestrogen) - ensure sufficient intake of calcium, Vitamin D, and protein.
- Phytoestogens, including soy and soy isoflavones, have been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flushes and vaginal dryness. 40-80mg of isoflavones per day (derived from soy-based products) are beneficial in reducing vasomotor symptoms
- Optimise intake of Omega 3 fatty acids to improve cognitive/brain health, cardiovascular health, reduces LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and lowers inflammation
- Avoid processed/refined foods, sugars, alcohol as they tend to increase the severity of menopausal symptoms.
- Regular weight-bearing exercise in the menopausal transition can help to prevent bone loss. Weight-bearing exercises combined with other forms of training such as light strength training are proven to preserve bone mineral density (BMD) in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
- Relaxation techniques, e.g. controlled breathing exercises, nature walks, yoga, tai chi etc may help reduce the frequency of hot flushes and improve psychological symptoms and stress associated with menopause.
- Aromatherapy – especially lavender oil - reduces anxiety and increases relaxation, which may be beneficial in easing stressful menopausal symptoms as well as sleeplessness, hot flushes and depression
- Prioritise sleep by creating a wind-down ritual
If you’re looking for further support with menopause, please contact Tayla via email email@example.com, Instagram @curawellness.co or book in for a naturopathic consultation (Australia-wide only).