What is the best natural hormone replacement for peri-menopause?
HRT is the main treatment that most of us think of when it comes to peri-menopause, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. For those women who have really bad menopause symptoms, it can be made all the more distressing if they can’t take HRT, and many look for natural hormone replacement instead. It can be really hard to know where to start, so here’s an introduction to some HRT alternatives.
What is peri-menopause?
Peri-menopause is a little like a second adolescence, taking you from your childbearing phase into your elder phase. The end of this transition is known as menopause, and it marks the first year anniversary after the end of the last period.
When it comes to the symptoms, we’ve all heard of hot flushes, mood swings and ‘middle age spread’, but there are lots of other symptoms too. They include:
- Anxiety, insomnia and mental health disturbance
- Aches & pains
- Heavy periods
- Brain fog & memory problems
- Fatigue & low libido
- Vaginal dryness
Looking at this list it’s easy to see how people can see menopause as a medical condition, and the obvious question is why can it be so awful if it’s just a natural part of life? I think a large part of the problem is that menopause is a big ask of a human body, and often it lacks the resources it needs for a smooth transition. That is often down to years of putting our own needs last, after children, partners, elderly parents or career. It’s quite possible that we’ve been so caught up in our busy lives that we didn’t hear our body’s quiet cries for help, and in the end it has no choice but to shout! Those shouts can manifest themselves as severe menopause symptoms.
Can peri-menopause be treated naturally?
Around ⅓ – ½ of women are asking if peri-menopause can be treated naturally, either for medical reasons or simply because they prefer natural approaches in general. It’s important to remember that menopause is just another rite of passage, and with a few rare exceptions, doesn’t need medicating. So it’s more a question of navigating menopause naturally rather than treating it. If you can understand what your body is doing, and trying to tell you, it becomes far easier to be kind to yourself.
Natural hormone replacement
To call these treatments ‘natural hormone replacement’ is a bit of a misnomer because they work very differently to HRT. With HRT, we’re force-feeding hormones into the body at a time when they’re naturally declining. Often the reduction of menopause symptoms that can come with HRT can be life changing for the woman taking it, but it’s not supportive of the body’s natural processes.
Natural alternatives to HRT don’t necessarily aim to replace or even rebalance the hormones. They’re not really supposed to be ‘in balance’ during this time because there are a number of complex processes taking place behind the scenes. What they can do is make everything work more smoothly and calmly, so that menopause can happen without disrupting the rest of your life.
Here are a few good places to start:
Whether you choose the natural route, HRT or a combination of the two, I always suggest starting with self care. When you’re kinder to yourself, in whichever way you can be, the whole journey becomes much easier and more rewarding. You miss out on all of that if you simply medicate and carry on, plus you risk making the same mistakes again in the future.
Sadly, many of us are so down on ourselves that we feel we don’t deserve our own kindness. We can often self sabotage by eating foods we know aren’t good for us, or not leaving the house all day. If that’s you, download the free self compassion meditation on this page, and listen to it every day for 30 days.
Even really small changes make a big difference not only to your menopause journey, but for the rest of your life thereafter. For example:
- Getting 30 minutes exercise a day reduces your risk of dementia by around 40%. It also balances your hormones, strengthens your bones, immune system, mental health and heart at the same time.
- Standing in a certain posture for 2 minutes gently raises your testosterone levels.
- Eating 40g flaxseed a day can drastically reduce your hot flushes.
These are all really quick and easy for most people to do, and yet they all make a really positive difference when it comes to managing peri-menopause symptoms.
That said, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. We all know we need to eat well, get daily exercise, go to bed early and so on. But knowing what to do and being able to do it are 2 different things! A while ago I had a number of health issues myself, including weight gain, very stiff sore joints, and brain fog. I knew that they would all get much better if I could get some daily exercise, but still I couldn’t find the motivation! In the end I had menopause hypnotherapy, and I’ve been swimming or walking most days ever since. Within 3 weeks all of my symptoms had completely gone.
And knowing exactly what to do for each symptom can be tricky too. Luckily I’ve done all the hard work for you, so if you’d like to step up the self care, take a look at my Menopause Toolkit or Rejuven8 programmes.
Herbal Remedies For Peri-menopause
In my humble opinion, nothing beats prescribed herbal remedies when it comes to sorting out severe menopause symptoms naturally. They’re intelligent medicines, going into an intelligent body, and they know exactly how to nudge you back to your best self. After I see a patient for a first consultation, I typically blend together about 6-7 herbal tinctures into a bottle, and they would usually take around 3-4 teaspoonfuls a day. The herbs have multiple actions, working on:
- Underlying causes of any hormone imbalance
- Buffering the effects of stress on hormones
- Specific menopause symptoms
- Any other health issues
All at the same time, taking into account any other medication she’s taking. Prescribed herbal medicines are safe, effective and in my experience they usually work incredibly fast. You can find out more about herbal treatment here.
Aromatherapy For Peri-Menopause
I’m not an aromatherapist, but I do find using pre-blended oils really useful in calming down menopause symptoms, and they do actually influence hormone levels themselves too. My two favourite blends are ‘Focus’ for brain fog, and ‘Women’s Balance’ for anxiety, exhaustion and generally feeling menopausal.
You can learn more about how to use essential oils safely at home with an Aromatherapy expert in module 6 of Rejuven8.
Menopause can be a tricky time emotionally as well as physically. It calls on us to evaluate how our lives have gone so far, how we’d like the rest to go, and how we feel about end of life. All of this can bring up a lot of deeply buried emotions and even past traumas which can feel overwhelming. As a result it’s not uncommon for me to see women who’ve realised that they’re turning to drink or drugs during menopause to save them facing these feelings.
Menopause hypnotherapy is a great way to make that sense of being overwhelmed more manageable, so that you’re able to work through any past issues much more comfortably. We’re not supressing or burying, but instead looking at healthier ways to process emotion. Menopause hypnotherapy is also great for:
- Physical pain
- Loss of self confidence
- Getting unstuck and clear on how to move forward
- Motivation to exercise or make healthier food choices
- Stress, burnout and overwhelm
Combining Treatments For Peri-Menopause
If you’re struggling with very severe symptoms, the quickest way to resolve them is to combine treatments and work on all aspects at the same time. I believe that all illness, injury and menopause symptoms are triggered by the subconscious mind, and it always helps to try and delve into the psycho-emotional side. Alongside that, you can work on physical aspects, using a combination of herbal medicine with good nutrition, exercise, relaxation and so on, so that all bases are well and truly covered! By getting all the basics in place, and resolving all the deep subconscious issues, there’s no longer any reason for those symptoms to hang around any longer.
Other Natural Alternatives To HRT
Other Natural Alternatives to HRT available to you really depend on your personal experience of menopause and your budget. There are lots of off-the-shelf herbal and nutritional products you can try, but whilst some women find them really helpful, others waste a lot of time and money finding the right ones. It’s well worth investing in seeing a practitioner who can tailor your treatment and offer moral support at the same time if you’re able to.
In terms of self care, you could look at:
- Cold water swimming
- Meditation/deep relaxation
- Weight training
- Supplementing phyto-oestrogens
Need more advice on the best natural hormone replacement for you?
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