The Menopause

Is there an alternative to HRT?

Fed up with those hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, mood changes, loss of libido, headaches and heart palpitations? Many women sail through the change of life symptom-free, but for others the physical and psychological symptoms heralding the menopause fill them with dread. 

The menopause is a natural phase of every woman’s life marking a gradual decline in fertility. Our natural hormone balance is a finely-tuned rhythm of follicle-stimulating hormone, oestrogen, luteinising hormone and progesterone: as one hormone increases, another subsides, as they all have a different job to do in the reproductive process. As we age there is a change in our hormone balance; oestrogen levels decrease causing the ovaries to release fewer eggs, and our monthly period becomes increasingly erratic. Eventually our periods stop completely, marking an end to our child-bearing years.

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51, but the whole process can last for many months, or even years, between the ages of 45 to 55. Although for an increasing number of women the menopause is arriving much earlier, putting them at a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and bone disease in later life.

It is these changes in the delicate hormonal balance that produce the differing symptoms. It is estimated that around two thirds of women experience the most common symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats. But many women also report psychological symptoms, including depression, tiredness, a lack of energy and a loss of libido. Long-term effects of the menopause include an increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. 
The conventional approach to the menopause is that it is a ‘disease’ that needs to be treated.  As such, one of the main conventional treatments is to replace the ‘lost’ hormones using HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) in the form of pills, patches or creams.   However, there remains controversy over the use of HRT, both due to its effectiveness and safety, especially with long-term use (over five years). Although HRT may provide relief for some in the short-term, it has been linked to an increased risk in breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and stroke.  In addition, HRT is not suitable for every woman and is not recommended for women with a history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, blood clots, heart disease, stroke, untreated high blood pressure or liver disease. 
So what are the alternatives? Menopause occurs at the natural end of every woman's reproductive life, so why not treat it in a natural way? Alongside looking at lifestyle changes in diet and exercise, an increasing number of women are turning to homeopathy to help them through this life transition. Homeopathy is a safe, natural, holistic and highly effective approach, which not only helps to alleviate the uncomfortable physical symptoms experienced by many women, but also helps them to move gently into the next phase of their life.  Every woman experiences the menopause in a unique way and a professional homeopath takes this into account, selecting remedies to match the individual.  Since homeopathic remedies are highly diluted and made from naturally occurring substances that have not been modified or synthesised, they are 
safe to use and free from toxic side effects.  Homeopathic remedies gently stimulate the body’s natural healing capacity, encouraging the body to heal itself. Remedies gently restore balance whilst boosting the constitution and bringing a sense of wellbeing.  
The gentle and holistic nature of homeopathy makes it especially suitable for treating the symptoms of hormonal imbalances, not only for women during the menopause but also for younger women and girls experiencing menstrual problems and PMS. There are a number of widely used homeopathic remedies to help with these conditions, such as: Pulsatilla, for women with hot flushes to the head but chilly elsewhere and feeling weepy; Sepia, for women who have been on HRT and are exhausted with a dragging down feeling; and Cimicifuga for women with sudden hot flushes in the late evening and a sensation of a being under a dark cloud. Although these remedies may be found at homeopathic pharmacies, health food shops and good chemists, unlike with acute conditions such as coughs and colds, it is advisable to consult a professional homeopath rather than trying to self-treat, since we are trying to rebalance the delicate hormonal system. During a lengthy consultation a professional homeopath will build up a picture of the whole person and their unique symptoms and experiences; she will then tailor a treatment strategy for the individual. In addition to prescribing homeopathic remedies, she may also offer basic dietary and exercise advice.

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