What to do when HRT is not an option - 10 ways to ease menopause symptoms.

cbt hrt menopause and aromatherapy menopause and exercise menopause and homeopathy menopause and nutrition menopause help without hrt Mar 15, 2023

Is there an alternative treatment to HRT?

When you first start to think about the stage of life called Menopause, it can be a really daunting time. Suddenly there seems to be advice everywhere, often conflicting, and it's hard to work out what, if anything, you want to change in order to help you stay as healthy and active as possible. 

One of the big decisions for many women is whether to speak to their doctor about HRT, sometimes women have even got a prescription but they are too nervous to take it.  And some women can't or don't ever want to take HRT, those women often feel very alone and that there isn't much advice for THEM.

I hope that this blog gives you some positive options to think about. These tools can be used alone, before starting HRT or in most cases, in conjunction with HRT if desired. 

 

What is menopause?

So let's just kick off with a simple fact - Menopause is a natural process that occurs when a woman's ovaries produce less oestrogen and progesterone hormones. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and sleep disturbances.

Some women may not experience significant symptoms during menopause, and they may not feel the need to take HRT. Other women may experience mild symptoms that can be managed with lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress reduction, and avoiding triggers that can worsen symptoms, such as caffeine and alcohol.

 

What happens if you don't take HRT ? 

For some women, menopausal symptoms can be severe and interfere with their daily activities and quality of life. 

In these cases, if HRT is not an option, it's helpful to be aware of other ways to alleviate symptoms and other lifestyle changes which can help prevent long-term health risks associated with low oestrogen levels, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

It's important to note that the decision to use or not use HRT during menopause should be made on an individual basis, based on a woman's specific health history, symptoms, and personal preferences. Women should discuss the benefits and risks of HRT with their healthcare provider to make an informed decision about their treatment options.

There are a variety of reasons why some women may choose not to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to alleviate menopause symptoms, including:

  • Concerns about the risks: HRT has long been associated with an increased risk of certain health conditions, such as breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and heart disease, but even though many of these worries have been proven incorrect, some women may choose not to take HRT due to concerns about these potential risks.
  • Personal or family history of certain health conditions: Women with a personal or family history of certain health conditions, such as breast cancer or blood clots, may be advised by their healthcare provider not to take HRT.
  • Desire to use alternative treatments: Some women may prefer to use alternative treatments, such as herbal remedies, acupuncture, or lifestyle changes, to alleviate menopause symptoms.
  • Financial concerns: although HRT is available on prescription in the UK, elsewhere it can be expensive, and some women may not be able to afford the medication.
  • Fear of side effects: Some women may be concerned about the potential side effects of HRT, often described as headaches, nausea, bloating, or mood changes.
  • Personal beliefs or values: Some women may have personal beliefs or values that lead them to prefer non-pharmacological approaches to managing menopause symptoms.

 

Lifestyle changes for menopause symptom relief - they really work!

There are several lifestyle changes that can help alleviate menopause symptoms, including:

  • Regular exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming, can help improve mood, reduce hot flashes, and promote better sleep. 
  • Healthy diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight, support bone health, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Stress reduction: Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation, can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and promote better sleep.
  • Avoiding triggers: Certain triggers, such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and hot beverages, can worsen hot flashes and night sweats. Avoiding or reducing these triggers can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of several health problems, including heart disease and osteoporosis. Quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of these complications.
  • Adequate sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for overall health and well-being. Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment can help promote better sleep.
  • Staying hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and avoiding dehydration can help reduce symptoms such as dry skin, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.

It's important to note that the effectiveness of lifestyle changes can vary from person to person and typically we don't see results overnight, I work with my clients to help them put these changes into place and monitor the change it makes. 



When HRT is not an option, exercise can be an effective way to help manage menopause symptoms. 

Embarking on an appropriate fitness routine, designed specifically for menopause can help in the following ways:

  1. Reducing hot flashes and night sweats: Exercise can help regulate body temperature and reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.
  2. Improving mood: Exercise can help boost mood, reduce anxiety, and alleviate symptoms of depression, which can be common during menopause.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight: Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity, which can contribute to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  4. Supporting bone health: Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, and strength training, can help build and maintain strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  5. Promoting better sleep: Regular exercise can help improve the quality and duration of sleep, which can be disrupted by menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
  6. Boosting energy levels: Exercise can help improve energy levels and reduce fatigue, which can be a common symptom during menopause.

My online fitness classes are all designed for women in perimenopause and beyond - click HERE for more information!

 

Is there a 'best diet' for menopause symptom relief

The right nutrition can play an important role in alleviating menopause symptoms. Here are some ways that proper nutrition can help:

  • Reducing hot flashes and night sweats: Certain foods can trigger hot flashes and night sweats, so avoiding spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol may help reduce the frequency and intensity of these symptoms.
  • Supporting bone health: Menopause can increase the risk of osteoporosis, so getting enough calcium and vitamin D through foods or supplements can help maintain strong bones. 
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease: Menopause can increase the risk of heart disease, so consuming a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help reduce this risk.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Menopause can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight, so choosing nutrient-dense foods and limiting processed foods and added sugars can help manage weight.
  • Improving mood: A balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-rich foods can help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve mood, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety.
  • Supporting vaginal health: Menopause can cause vaginal dryness and discomfort, so consuming foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soy, flaxseeds, and legumes, may help improve vaginal health.



Alternative therapies for menopause symptoms.

There are a variety of alternative therapies that can help alleviate menopause symptoms. Here are a few examples:

  1. Mind-body techniques: Practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality. 
  2. Aromatherapy: This therapy uses essential oils from plants to promote physical and emotional well-being, some women find aromatherapy useful to alleviate their menopause symptoms.
  3. Acupuncture: This technique involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to improve energy flow and reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
  4. Herbal remedies: Certain herbs, such as black cohosh, red clover, and dong quai, have been used to alleviate menopause symptoms. It's important to note, however, that the safety and effectiveness of these herbs is not always well-established, and they may interact with other medications or have side effects.
  5. Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes, and sleep disturbances.
  6. Massage therapy: Massage can help reduce muscle tension, improve relaxation, and promote better sleep.
  7. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help women manage symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability by teaching coping strategies and cognitive restructuring.
  8. Diet and nutrition: Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help reduce symptoms such as hot flashes, mood changes, and weight gain.

It's important to note that while these alternative therapies can be effective for some women, they may not work for everyone, and some may have potential risks or side effects. It's always best to consult with a healthcare provider before trying any new therapy, including alternative therapies, to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

 

There are other medications besides hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that can be used to alleviate menopause symptoms, depending on the individual's specific symptoms, medical history, and preferences. These may include:

  1. Low-dose antidepressants: Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), may be prescribed to alleviate hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
  2. Gabapentin: This medication is typically used to treat seizures or nerve pain, but it can also help reduce hot flashes and improve sleep.
  3. Clonidine: This medication is commonly used to treat high blood pressure, but it can also be effective in reducing hot flashes.
  4. Ospemifene: This medication is an estrogen agonist/antagonist that can help alleviate vaginal dryness and painful intercourse.
  5. Vaginal estrogen: Estrogen creams, tablets, or rings inserted directly into the vagina can help alleviate vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort without significantly increasing estrogen levels in the bloodstream.


NEW ONLINE PROGRAMME starts 9th October for 8 weeks. 

If you are interested in learning more about this AND putting some of these changes in place to ease your symptoms, then join me for a 12 week programme. It's friendly, supportive, LIVE and recorded and can really TRANSFORM how you are feeling now, back to feeling how you want to be again! 

Click here for more info. 

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