Menopause refers to the complete cessation of menstruation in a woman. It usually occurs after the age of 50, but it can occur in younger women. Before menopause begins (perimenopause), women may experience irregular ovulation and menstruation with or without other symptoms. Menopause is said to begin once a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a spontaneous period.
The onset of menopause is associated with a variety of uncomfortable symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood swings, and depression. Within the first 10 years of menopause, women may have increased risk of infections and may develop incontinence.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which involves taking oestrogen and progesterone supplements to enhance the body’s natural hormone levels helps to suppress menopausal symptoms. However, it is associated with many side effects including headaches, diarrhoea, appetite and weight changes, bloating and fluid retention. In more severe cases, HRT may cause severe abdominal pain, double vision, unusual bleeding, and extreme fatigue. HRT may also increase the risk of developing endometrial and breast cancers, heart attacks, blood clots in the lungs and legs, and gall bladder disease. With these side effects, natural/herbal remedies are suggested as the first treatment option.
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): native to Canada and the eastern parts of the USA, black cohosh helps to balance female hormones, relieve vaginal thinning and dryness, depression and anxiety. With its ability to dilate blood vessels, black cohosh additionally helps to reduce menopausal hot flushes and sweating. It is equally useful for women who suffer pre-menstrual symptoms like depression and anxiety, and for those who suffer from painful menstrual cramps. Black cohosh is not suitable for pregnant or nursing women.
- Maca (Lepidium peruvianum): is an annual cruciferous root vegetable which grows at over 4000 m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. Maca has been used successfully by native people of Peru for hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, fertility, and menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and loss of energy, libido and depression. See this article.
- St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum): is native to parts of Europe and Asia, but can also be found in Africa and the United States. St John’s wort is effective for the treatment of hot flushes.
Eat a healthy diet that includes legumes such as soy, and flaxseeds. Soy is a good source of plant isoflavones and phytoestrogens that can alleviate menopausal symptoms particularly hot flushes. You can purchase flaxseeds from Jumia. Consider incorporating exercise as it will also improve the circulation, improve well-being and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.