|Talk to your doctor|
|Talk to your doctor|
Deciding which menopause treatments are right for you involves thought, patience and a trip to your doctor’s office. Your doctor can help you take all sides of the issue into account, such as your personal and family histories, your tolerance of symptoms and the like. Like HT itself, there’s no “one-size-fits all” alternative therapy.
Though many women are searching for healthy alternatives to menopausal hormone therapy (HT), it’s challenging to find effective substitutes. After all, there’s nothing better than HT to help women cope with menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and sleep disruptions. Plus, HT also helps preserve bone density.
However, several alternative therapies are available for relieving menopause symptoms and halting bone loss. Here’s a look at what else you can try—after your doctor approves, of course.Short-term solutions
Every woman’s health can be improved by wholesome changes to her routines, especially at menopause:
- Diet. Avoid hot-flash triggers like alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and hot beverages or soups. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium—nutritionists say you need 1,500 milligrams a day, along with 400 international units of vitamin D. Add soy foods like tempeh and soymilk to meals along with soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes, plus fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They all contain phytoestrogens—plant-based estrogens that some doctors think help reduce hot flashes.
- Exercise. Regular workouts can improve sleep, diminish hot flashes and improve your mood. They also boost heart health. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging or weightlifting can help strengthen muscles and hinder bone loss as well as reduce your risk of falls and fractures.
- Antidepressants. Medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help manage hot flashes, some studies say.
- Smoking. Of course, if you smoke, quitting now will greatly improve your chances of avoiding osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer.
When your body stops producing estrogen, your bones may begin to lose density. Possible solutions include:
- Synthetic hormones. Raloxifene and tamoxifen are known as SERMs (selective estrogen replacement modulators). These synthetic hormones mimic the beneficial effects of estrogen on the bones to help offset calcium loss at menopause. In addition, they help prevent breast cancer in high-risk women. Caution: Both drugs may cause or intensify hot flashes and may increase the risk of blood clots. Tamoxifen may also increase the risk for uterine cancer.
- Bisphosphonates. Nonhormonal drugs such as Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva block bone mineral loss and thus protect against fractures. Calcitonin, a hormone produced by the thyroid, which helps maintain bone density, is prescribed for women who experience gastrointestinal upset from bisphosphonates.