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24 September 2010

20 Things You Need to Know About Perimenopause and Menopause

Hot flashes, irregular periods, headaches, cold hands and feet, forgetfulness – these are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Affecting each woman differently, the symptoms of menopause signify the cessation of menses and the end of the fertile phase in a woman’s life, usually occurring during their late 40s or early 50s. This transition is brought on by a major reduction in hormonal production, which is either due to the natural aging process or through artificial means, such as a surgical hysterectomy.

1. Menopause itself is technically just one point in time: the day when an entire year has passed since the end of a woman's last menstrual cycle. The average age on this day is 51 years, but women may be as young as 40 or as old as 58 and still be within the normal range for menopause. Just as the timing of this change in ovarian function differs from one woman to another, so do the timing and intensity of menopausal symptoms. Some women barely notice a hot flash or two. We've even spoken with women who had "cold flashes" rather than hot flashes.
- Joe Graedon, M.S. and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., Best Choices From the People's Pharmacy

2. “Natural menopause" is simply menopause not caused by any medical intervention, as opposed to "induced menopause," which is usually due to removal of both ovaries (surgical menopause), but can also be secondary to drugs (such as chemotherapy) or radiation treatment. Natural menopause can also refer to the experience of menopause without the use of replacement hormones, such as estrogen or progesterone.
- Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox, and Makoto Suzuki, The Okinawa Program: How the World's Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health

3. Menopause occurs when there are no longer any active eggs left in the ovaries due to normal aging or as a result of chemotherapy or surgery.
- Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

4. Estrogen production after menopause or hysterectomy decreases bone calcium and strength. Most if not all American women are deficient in calcium.
- Joseph E. Mario, Anti-Aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health
5. During the perimenopausal period, many women have irregular periods.
- Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

6. The most common complaints of perimenopause and menopause are hot flashes, headaches, atrophic vaginitis (vaginal dryness and irritation due to lack of estrogen), frequent urinary tract infections, cold hands and feet, forgetfulness, and inability to concentrate.
- Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

7. In the United States, 65 to 80 percent of menopausal women experience hot flashes to some degree.
- Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

8. Over half of women who have ovary-sparing "partial" hysterectomies experience early menopause.
- Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

9. Osteoporosis in women typically starts in their mid-thirties, often 15 years before menopause, with a bone loss rate of about I to 1.5 percent a year. At menopause, that rate increases to 3 to 5 percent for about five years, then levels off and continues at about 1.5 percent per year. If estrogen prevents osteoporosis, he asks, "why does bone loss occur 10 to 15 years before menopause, when estrogen levels are still normal?" The answer, he says, is that levels of the hormone progesterone (the other hormone manufactured by the ovaries of menstruating women) begin to fall during a woman's mid-thirties.
- Bill Gottlieb, Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems

10. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is taken by many women in order to alleviate unpleasant effects of menopause, protect bone health and prevent coronary heart disease. However, it is now becoming widely acknowledged that HRT is not as beneficial as once thought, and it may have certain severe side effects.
- T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell II, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health

11. Menopausal and post-menopausal women have an even greater risk for UTIs because of their hormone imbalance. Estrogen and progesterone help prevent bladder infections by reinforcing the urethral cells and attracting and trapping bacteria that enter the urinary tract. When women lack these hormones, the body is not able to expel bacteria properly, allowing them to remain in the bladder and urethra and cause infection.
- Mike Adams, Natural Health Solutions

12. Because the lignans in flax are actually phytoestrogens (weak estrogenic compounds from plants), they may help relieve menopausal symptoms. In fact, in one study, flaxseed was as effective as hormone replacement therapy in reducing mild menopausal symptoms in menopausal women.
- Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why

13. Between 1963 and 1975, dollar sales for prescription estrogen replacements quadrupled. As one Harvard researcher noted: "Few medical interventions have had as widespread application as exogenous estrogen treatment in postmenopausal women." By 1975, with prescriptions at an all time high of 30 million, estrogens had become the fifth most widely prescribed drug in the United States.
- Gerald E. Markle and Frances B. McCrea, What If Medicine Disappeared?

14. One of the most popular herbs for treatment of less severe forms of anxiety — as well as for menopausal depression and insomnia — is kava. According to Chris Kilham, author of Medicine Hunting in Paradise, which recounts his work as founder of the Cowboy Medicine Expeditions, specializing in researching and creating plant-based products, kava has an exotic history. It was "brought to the Western world after Captain Cook's first voyage to the South Pacific in the late 1700s. There has been ongoing scientific interest in kava since then.
- Gary Null and Amy McDonald, The Food-Mood Connection: Nutrition-based and Environmental Approaches to Mental Health and Physical Wellbeing

15. Calendula has a particular attraction to the female reproductive system and can regulate menstruation, relieve menopausal symptoms, relieve uterine congestion, and reduce cysts and fibroid tumors as well as relieve menstrual cramps. In this way, the heart and spirit of Calendula complement each other.
- Pam Montgomery, Plant Spirit Healing: A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness

16. Hormonal decline is typically a slow, gradual decline in all of our hormones for both women and men. We refer to this phase of life as perimenopause in women and andropause in men. These are milestones leading to our older age. I like to think of these phases as the adolescence of old age. Do you recall how tough adolescence was?"
- Phuli Cohan, The Natural Hormone Makeover: 10 Steps to Rejuvenate Your Health and Rediscover Your Inner Glow

17. The incidence of vertebral fractures in women begins to rise early in the sixth decade, corresponding in time to the menopausal loss of endogenous estrogen.
- Ann M. Coulston and Carol J. Boushey, Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease

18. Women who have been eating raw diets for several years prior to the onset of menopause report having neither signs nor symptoms that indicate they are passing through menopause. The only way they discover that they have gone through the passage is via blood tests for hormone levels. Temperature extremes are suddenly tolerated more easily. Body odors vanish or greatly diminish after a year or two of eating mostly or 100 percent raw. Skin becomes soft and smooth. Hair grows thick and wild. Bad breath becomes a thing of the past. Air travel does not entail jet lag.
- Susan E. Schenck, The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet

19. Recent studies suggest that short-term hormone replacement early in menopause may have some cardiovascular benefits, but the cardiology jury is still undecided.
- Stephen Sinatra, M.D. and James C., M.D. Roberts, Reverse Heart Disease Now: Stop Deadly Cardiovascular Plaque Before It's Too Late

20. Over the past few years, a great debate has ensued in the research community: Will eating more soy during menopause keep hot flashes away? A recent Italian study suggests soy isoflavones perhaps don't actually minimize hot flashes but instead have the ability to improve mood, thereby rendering women less inclined to care about their hot flashes. The theory makes sense, given that estrogen receptors exist in the mood area of our brain, and soy is rich in natural plant estrogens.
- Elaine Magee, Food Synergy: Unleash Hundreds of Powerful Healing Food Combinations to Fight Disease and Live Well

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