7 Natural Ways To Manage Menopause Without HRT

8-ways-to-manage-menopause-without-HRT

If you’re approaching menopause and in pre-, perimenopause or post-menopause* you’re far from alone.

In fact, the World Health Organization estimate:

  • worldwide there will be 1.2 billion post-menopausal women by 2030
  • 47 million women go through the menopause transition each year

And while some women will sail through with nary a blip, about 80 percent will experience symptoms to moderate or severe degrees.

So if you’re one of the 80 percent how do you manage your symptoms?

Should you manage menopause naturally or with HRT?

There’s no one choice because every woman is different.

7-ways-to-manage-menopause-without-hrtHRT (also known as MHT) isn’t safe for every woman (see overview below).

Some doctors will also prescribe other forms of medication such as antidepressants to help alleviate symptoms.

As menopause is not a disease but a natural life transition many women choose to avoid medicines. They opt to manage menopause without HRT.

In fact, the menopause symptoms we’ve normalised in the West are unknown in some cultures, which suggests that lifestyle plays a huge role.

The one non-negotiable is that every woman who goes through menopause comes to the end of her fertile years. And every woman’s experience will be different.

There is no one size fits all.

About the signs and symptoms of menopause

Perimenopause

Most of the years when unwanted signs occur is during perimenopause. As a result, you may experience hot flushes, mood swings, anxiety, depression, genital, sexual and musculo-skeletal problems.

Perimenopause is when your sex hormones are fluctuating on their way to the time when your ovaries stop producing eggs.

The changes can begin anytime from 35 on.

Post-menopause

Things tend to settle down once you move through into post-menopause. On average this occurs at age 51/52 – sometimes earlier and sometimes later.

It should be noted, however, that some women can experience signs like hot flushes for many years. By the same token, a drier vagina and a change in body shape are hallmarks of the transition.

An Overview Of HRT

While HRT benefits some women, for others it’s not considered safe.

HRT is not recommended for women with:

  • A history of breast or other hormone-dependent cancers although this requires discussion with a specialist. Some of the newer formulations are deemed low-risk
  • Experience of blood clots
  • Over the age of 60

For some women HRT can cause:

  • breast tenderness
  • nausea
  • irregular bleeding or spotting
  • According to the International Menopause Society, there is a slight risk of stroke or blood clots in the legs or uterus
  • They also acknowledge that combined estrogen and progestogen use may slightly increase breast cancer risk after four/five years
  • However, using estrogen alone (for non-risk women) doesn’t increase the likelihood of breast cancer at seven years. But it could do if used for longer
  • Additionally, HRT may be good for heart health before age 60 or within 10 years of menopause. But after 60, HRT might slightly increase heart disease risk

7 ways to manage menopause without HRT:

If you don’t want to – or are unable to – you can manage menopause without HRT. Below are some natural-management steps and they’re not fluff, they’re backed by science!

1. Lifestyle changes

  • Simple shifts such as wearing lighter clothing and taking a cool shower or bath before bed may help with hot flushes and night sweats.
  • Try not to eat food at least three hours before bed and avoid well-known triggers such as caffeine, alcohol (yes, even that one glass) and spicy food.
  • Move frequently – moderate exercise is good – and attempt to keep your weight at a healthy levels.
  • Ensure you diarise ‘you-time’ and endeavour to get plenty of rest.
  • Prioritise being as stress-free as possible.
  • Overhaul your diet and, if you don’t already, choose fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and lots of water wherever possible.
  • Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates and anything from a packet.
  • Too much sugar and processed foods plus modern-day toxins can affect our sleep.
  • It’s time to get serious about your health. So, if you haven’t already, stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption. This will not only help you to manage symptoms but will help your heart, bones and brain which become more vulnerable to disease post-menopause.

2. Sleep well

Sleep disruption is common and very detrimental to your life making it difficult to function well the next day.

7-ways-to-manage-menopause-without-hrt
Photo by Mojapelo @unsplash

Therefore, it’s important to establish a regular sleep schedule even on weekends. The human body tends to thrive on routine.

  • Turn off the lights between 9.30pm and 10pm. According to the ancient wisdom of the ayurvedic clock the body begins to wind down about 6pm. And from there it prepares for sleep. However, from 10pm to 2pm it begins to repair and renew so it’s best to sleep before this kicks in.
  • Refer back to Lifestyle Changes. Prep your bedroom, look at your diet, avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day and stop eating three hours before bed.
  • Include foods containing tryptophan in your daily fare. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. And serotonin has been found to play an important role in sleep and mood. High tryptophan foods include chicken, tofu, fish, beans, oats, eggs, nuts and seeds.
  • Try drinking a cup of relaxing tea such as chamomile around 6pm. Avoid drinking later so an urge to pee doesn’t wake you.
  • A beautiful ritual to avoid phone and computer screens at night is to take a relaxing bath and read before lights out.
  • We’ve found the natural melatonin in Tart Cherry juice and supplements helpful for sleep.

For more tips: grab our FREE Sleep Hygiene sheet here.

3. E is for exercise

Exercise is helpful for improving many of the signs and symptoms of menopause. These include managing stress, sleep disruption, weight gain, bone density, memory and mental health. Try to incorporate 30-60 minutes daily.

  • Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, cycling, swimming and HIIT are great. And resistance or weight training is vital for women as it helps to strengthen bones and lessen the risk of osteoporosis.
  • If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety movement can be magical. As a result of exercise, the body releases neurochemicals like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. In turn these chemicals triggers feelings of wellbeing. What’s more, exercise encourages a good night’s sleep.
  • If you only have 10 minutes that’s OK, move your body anyway
  • If you don’t like formal exercise take a walk in nature (nature bathing), dance or try something new.
  • Remember, the best form of exercise is the one you’ll do.

For more exercise tips visit our 7 Wellness Pillars For Your Best Menopause here.

4. Yoga

7-ways-to-manage-menopause-without-hrt
Photo by conscious_design @unsplash

One of the most ancient practices in the world, yoga has been shown to help with menopause symptoms.

In fact, this study showed yoga could increase estrogen levels in post-menopausal women. And this research explored the effects of yoga and sleep in women in midlife. Additionally, this study showed that yoga was helpful for both hot flushes and psychological symptoms.

For the yoga virgin, the thought of it can conjure up images of impossibly lithe and flexible people. But the truth is those people are probably long-term devotees. There are many less intense poses and moderations that can be achieved by most people – even the disabled.

Yoga incorporates many excellent techniques that are brilliant for managing menopause side effects including breath work, resistance, flexibility and balance.

To clarify, flexibility involves stretching to help keep a good range of motion and fluid joints. On the other hand, balance/coordination exercises help us maintain good balance and prevent falls.

What’s more, YouTube yoga is easily available. Yoga With Adriene has sequences for everyone from beginner to advanced, injured to elderly.

Great alternatives to yoga include Pilates and tai chi.

5. Breathwork & meditation

Breathwork can be used to calm your body either immediately or as a cumulative process.

Indeed, it forms the basis of most forms of meditation as it works both physically and emotionally.

Most of us today breath shallowly whereas breathwork uses deep diaphragmatic breathing to help us de-stress and manage anxiety, calm ourselves to sleep or process a hot flush.

A study in the Menopause journal showed slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing (which they call paced breathing) supports symptoms.

To reduce anxiety and panic attacks try 4-7-8 breathing. Breathe out and release all breath in the lungs. Then breath in for four, hold for seven and breathe out for eight. Do this a few times until you feel calmer.

6. Cognitive behavioural therapy

Several studies have shown that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is very helpful for managing the impact of menopause symptoms.

CBT works to help you understand how what you think, feel, behave and your physical reactions all link together. It also helps you to develop coping skills to manage them i.e. by helping you reframe negative thoughts around having a hot flush or indeed menopause.

Including CBT in your natural menopause management has been proven to help with hot flushes and night sweats. And ongoing studies are pointing to its benefits with anxiety, depression and sleep.

7. Use proven supplementation

At MenoMe® our philosophy is about the holistic, evidence-backed management of menopause.

We’re very aware of the power of nature.

As such, we’re often asked if the superheroine ingredient we use in 40+ and 55+, EstroG-100™, is considered HRT (MHT).

The answer to that is no.

It’s a natural, safe, non-estrogenic, clinically proven alternative.

How does EstroG-100™ work?

The available scientific evidence suggests the mechanism of action for EstroG-100™ supporting menopausal balance and bone metabolism is due to its support for a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). Certain plant compounds in EstroG-100™ support balanced estrogen metabolism. This works in harmony with your own body’s metabolic and biochemical pathways.

The fact that its non-estrogenic and its mode of action accounts for its high safety profile.

What’s more, it can be used alongside prescription medications** and is safe for women who have had, or are at risk of, hormone-dependent breast cancer. We have the scientific data regarding this on the website here (5.3 on the index). Below is a diagram of what clinical trials showed.

** Please read our FAQs regarding anticoagulant/blood thinning medication here.

Diagram showing improvement of menopause symptoms

Conclusion

We hope this is helpful and has shown you ways you can manage menopause without HRT.

Disclaimer:

*We refer to natural pre-, peri- and post-menopause not surgically induced menopause.

Our articles are a guideline only. Any signs and symptoms you are experiencing could be due to a number of reasons. For this reason, this should not take the place of medical advice. If you’re experiencing ongoing signs please see your health professional.

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.