If you are going through menopause, you know this transition can bring many symptoms. Many women have questions about ways to help manage symptoms and improve their quality of life without turning to hormone therapy. There is still debate over the safety and efficacy of taking dietary supplements for menopause. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits and potential risks, but some studies have shown that certain vitamins and other supplements can have a significant effect on symptoms for some women.
Symptoms of Menopause
During menopause, your body goes through many hormonal changes. Estrogen levels drop, bringing on a host of unpleasant symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Lack of sleep
- Sexual dysfunction
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
Of these, hot flashes are one of the most common, with up to 80% of women experiencing them during the menopausal transition. Also called night sweats when they happen while you are sleeping, hot flashes can be mild or severe, and they can continue for years.
While hormone therapy can help with hot flashes, this type of treatment may increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, blood clots, breast cancer, gallbladder disease and dementia, especially as you get older. For that reason, many women turn to other ways to decrease their discomfort, including supplements. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement, as some can cause other symptoms or interfere with prescription medications.
In studies and clinical trials, several dietary supplements have proven effective at improving quality of life during menopause for some women. These include:
- Vitamin E: Taking vitamin E can lessen the severity of hot flashes. Adding curcumin may also help with hot flashes and night sweats. Some research suggests vitamin E might also help ease anxiety and depression.
- Ginseng: Taking ginseng may be beneficial in reducing a number of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and reduced interest in sex.
- Valerian root: This herbal supplement has been found to help menopausal women who are having problems sleeping. It can also help relieve hot flashes.
Other Ways to Relieve Symptoms
Many menopausal and postmenopausal women are willing to try other natural remedies for symptoms before turning to hormone therapy.
- To ease hot flashes, carry a portable fan, sip a cool drink and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can be triggering.
- For vaginal dryness, try vaginal moisturizers and lubricants.
- To help you sleep as well as lose weight, exercise regularly.
- Protect against bone loss and other diseases by eating foods with plenty of antioxidants.