Menopause marks the natural end of a woman's menstrual cycles. Often beginning in her 40s or 50s, the transition into menopause is an inevitable part of the aging process.
But for most women, the years leading up to menopause (known as perimenopause) can also be unpleasant ones, full of hot flashes, mood changes, trouble sleeping, and more. The good news is that the symptoms of perimenopause can be managed naturally. By switching up some of your habits and incorporating a some key herbs into your supplement routine, you can get through the transition into menopause with as little suffering as possible. Here are some healthy tips for managing symptoms and maintaining a healthy hormonal balance during perimenopause.
What Happens During Perimenopause
While menopause gets most of the focus, the truth is that many of the signs associated with this change occur in the years leading up to that final menstrual period. Spurred by a drop in estrogen, the main female hormone produced by the ovaries, perimenopause can trigger erratic menstrual cycles, hot flashes, irritability, poor sleep quality, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. And since perimenopause lasts an average of four years for most women, these symptoms can have a negative impact on productivity, intimacy, and overall quality of life.
Lifestyle and Perimenopause
Taking care of your health is important at every stage of life. But as menopause approaches, your body can be even more sensitive to the way you treat it. Activities that you never thought twice about can suddenly have a big effect on how you feel. That’s why now is a critical time to focus on your lifestyle and the impact your habits and behaviors have on your well-being.
Avoid triggers. Cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine are common agitators that can throw your hormones out of whack, even in the best of times. But their effect on hormones amplifies during perimenopause. What’s more, stress, anxiety—even the climate you live in—can have an impact on the way your body reacts to changing estrogen and progesterone levels.1 Knowing what you’re up against and making healthier choices can play a big role in mediating the severity of your symptoms.2
Eat a targeted diet. Help to balance your estrogen levels by tweaking your diet. Eating more foods containing phytoestrogens may offer protection against menopausal symptoms by reducing the frequency of hot flashes.3 Some of the best sources come from soy-based foods like tofu, tempeh, and edamame. Other foods such as berries, sesame seeds, and garlic are high in phytoestrogens and make for an easy addition to your meals.
Omega-3s are another key nutrient that can reduce the severity of perimenopausal hot flashes.4 They’ve also been shown to decrease depressive symptoms that often occur during the transition to menopause.5 And the benefits don’t stop there—eating plenty of fatty fish like salmon, trout, and halibut will increase not only your omega-3 levels but also your protein levels, which is important as muscle mass can start to deteriorate more rapidly during perimenopause.
Exercise. Staying active has big benefits for women going through perimenopause.6 Getting your heart pumping can improve your mood and enhance cardiovascular function while keeping your bones and muscles strong. It can also help to manage that pesky abdominal weight gain that is common for many women.7 Aerobic activities like jogging or swimming are great ways to keep your weight under control. Weight-bearing exercise can also improve bone health, help you lose body fat, and burn calories more effectively while increasing muscle mass. But if you’re new to exercise, start slow: even a brisk walk around the neighborhood can provide you with benefits.
Perimenopause Relief from Mother Nature
Nature has also provided some powerful herbs to help reduce perimenopause symptoms. Best of all, their use has been shown to be safe as well as effective.
Astragalus. Used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus holds a wealth of benefits for women during perimenopause. Not only does this herb help to strengthen and regulate the immune system, a recent study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine shows that astragalus can also significantly improve menopausal symptoms.8
Black cohosh. A woodland herb, black cohosh has a long history of use for women’s health. And with good reason: it’s been clinically shown to reduce the severity as well as the number of hot flashes, leading to an improved quality of life.9
Soy isoflavones. If soybeans aren’t really your thing, you can avoid the tofu and still get all of their hormone-balancing benefits by taking a supplement that contains soy isoflavones. These compounds can help to even out hormone levels and improve perimenopause symptoms including hot flashes. They’ve also been shown to have positive effects on systolic blood pressure during perimenopause.10 And that’s critical since women are more prone to cardiovascular issues after menopause.11
Taken individually, these ingredients can help soothe the irritating symptoms of perimenopause. But when combined in a single supplement like Estro-Logic they can have a significantly greater impact on a number of symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep problems, and mood changes when compared to a placebo.12
Even though a decline in estrogen is an inevitable part of life, your body’s response to these changes is well within your control. Making healthy choices and adding supportive nutrients can greatly improve how you feel as you enter a new phase of life. But as always, be sure to talk things over with your doctor before you make any important decisions related to your health.
- Hunter MS. The International Menopause Study of Climate, Altitude, Temperature (IMS-CAT) and vasomotor symptoms. Climacteric. 2013 Feb;16(1):8-16.
- Koyuncu T. Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Health Education on Menopause Symptoms and Knowledge and Attitude in Terms of Menopause. J Epidemiol Glob Health. 2018 Dec;8(1-2):8-12.
- Chen MN. Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric. 18(2), 260-269.
- Afsane G. Efficacy of omega-3 on hot flush in perimenopausal women versus placebo. Medical Sciences Journal of Islamic Azad University. 2012; 22 (3): 221-225.
- Freeman MP. Omega-3 fatty acids for major depressive disorder associated with the menopausal transition: a preliminary open trial. Menopause. 2011;18(3):279-284.
- Shorey S. Efficacy of mind–body therapies and exercise‐based interventions on menopausal‐related outcomes among Asian perimenopause women: A systematic review, meta‐analysis, and synthesis without a meta‐analysis. Journal of Advanced nursing. 76(5), 1098-1110.
- Gould LM. Metabolic effects of menopause: a cross-sectional characterization of body composition and exercise metabolism. Menopause. 2022 Feb 28;29(4):377-389.
- Park JS. Efficacy of Rubus coreanus Miq. and Astragalus membranaceus Bunge Extract for Postmenopausal Syndrome: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo Comparative Clinical Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Vol. 2022.
- Mehrpooya M. A comparative study on the effect of “black cohosh” and “evening primrose oil” on menopausal hot flashes. J Educ Health Promot. 2018;7:36.
- Chen L.R. Isoflavone supplements for menopausal women: a systematic review. Nutrients. 11(11), 2649.
- Samar R. Menopause Transition and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Implications for Timing of Early Prevention: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020;142:e506–e532.
- Rattanatantikul T. Efficacy and Safety of Nutraceutical on Menopausal Symptoms in Post-Menopausal Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Dietary Supplements. 19:2, 168-183.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.