Many of us going through menopause might like to try some of the new HRT's out there, but can not afford the drugs, let alone the Dr.'s visit. So what do you do? A lot of research. Here is what I have come up with, that works for me.
I am 50, fairly active but no athlete, not on any prescription meds and have no other health issues besides arthritis and having hot flashes for 3 years now. I'm 5'8" and sitting at 155. (about 10 over what is best for me.) I also have very low levels of cholesterol (under 150) and average to high blood pressure. I drink moderately, sometime more than I'd like, other times not at all. I favor organic foods but am not rabid about it. I smoke pot almost daily, sometimes too much so, but have not smoked tobacco for over 5 years. Not smoking pot increases the hot flashes by a bunch, but being stoned all the time ***** too!
I love coffee but try to keep it at about 4 cups a WEEK. More than that and my blood pressure creeps into the high range and I feel like crap.
Here are the main things that seem to affect my hot flashes;
1. Chocolate. Pretty much can't do it, unless I want guaranteed hot flashes within seconds of swallowing one bite and lasting for a day or more. Yeah, just a bite of chocolate does that to me.
2. Missing just one does of 1400mg Evening Primrose oil. I take it twice a day for 2800mg a day. Some days, I take 3. When I run out and it takes a few days to get more, I'm set back in intensity and frequency of hot flashes something fierce.
3., and this may come as as surprise. Whole Milk yogurt eaten at least 3 times a week, preferably daily. Seems I need the extra cholesterol to help move the hormones I have left to where they need to be, Cholesterol is the main hormone carrier. Of course if you already have high blood levels of Cholesterol, may not be what you need. But if you have normal levels and have cut out a lot or all cholesterol (as I had done) this may be a big help for you.
I buy the plain, no sugar, and add berries and/or walnuts and sweeten with real maple syrup. Great sour cream substitute too. I also go through a dozen eggs a week and try to limit meat proteins. Interesting side effect of hormone laden meats, I notice that after eating chicken a few times in a week, my periods try to return. Hhhm....
Another benefit of the added cholesterol, better skin. I also use a good sun block, not screen, wash that off when not needed and use natural moisturizers without any petroleum products. No mineral oil or petrolatum.
The other issue I have had that bothers me the most is a loss of strength and muscle size overall. I had always enjoyed being really strong, 150 pounds of big muscles strong, so this has been really hard for me to accept. Rock climbing at a high level? No problem. Skiing pow for hours? No problem. Splitting and stacking wood? Open that jar for you? You get the picture. Now I can't even get off the floor without a lot of effort and my climbing level has sunk to a new low. Only solution is too work out with weights and try harder. And not give up!
1. 20 -30 minutes a day of cardio, preferable through walking, hiking, running or X country skiing. Biking and swimming, while super fun and a good part of any exercise plan, does not give you the impact your bones need so badly right now to stay strong.
2. Weight training, absolutely critical to keep you bones strong.
3. A good stretching routine to keep your tendons and ligaments from tightening up and wrecking your joints.
And NO, I AM NOT ATHLETIC. this is just the minimum everyday normal physical activity we need to stay healthy. Start smaller and work up if you have to.
You really have to do your homework for your own personal body type and health issues.
Green tea, this is a biggy for me with inflammation due to arthritis. Very anti inflammatory properties in green tea, I try to drink 3 cups or more a day. It's been fun discovering all the different types of tea out there too.
Personal reflection. Be open to change, it is inevitable after all. Change your life, redesign yourself., Stop identifying with the old you and let go of the past, things will NEVER be like they were, accepting this goes along way to happiness and less stress.
Make fun of your hot flashes and try to have fun with them, my guy friends love this part. ;-> (Ripping my shirt off unexpectedly is always a hit. Wear a nice sports bra. This is where lifting weights comes in handy.) That belly bulge that won't go away? Guess what? Most guys really love your Buddha belly and think it's sexy.
I also take a handful of supplements twice a day for both arthritis and general health. It works but you have to be consistent, the effects are cumulative. I have not taken anything for pain or inflammation in months.
Melatonin is a two edged sword. It helped me fall asleep, hard, but then I would be wide awake after 4 hours. No falling back asleep until it was time to get up! Frustrating. But, it also seems to help my moods the next day. Juries still out on that one.
So what works for you, your body type and mind set?