An estimated 6,000 women in the U.S. reach menopause every day (about
two million annually).The most common menopausal complaints include hot
flashes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, poor mood, and physical and mental
exhaustion. Hot flashes affect 80 percent of peri- or postmenopausal
women, with 30 percent reporting hot flashes severe enough to seriously
affect their quality of life. Conventional menopausal hormone therapies
have potential risks, and the latest statistics from IMS Health show a
steady downward trend in their use from 2006 to 2010. Many health care
professionals and their menopausal patients are seeking safer options
that offer reliable relief.
Deanna Minich, PhD FACN, CNS is vice president, scientific affairs at Metagenics,
Inc., a nutrigenomics and lifestyle medicine company. She is also a
well-respected lecturer on women's health issues and healthy aging. As a
teaching clinician, Dr. Minich helps health care practitioners and
patients discover nutritional and lifestyle medicine strategies for
effectively relieving common menopausal symptoms.
"Millions of women suffer every day from severe menopausal symptoms that
often cause discomfort, exhaustion and even embarrassment," said Minich.
"With so many approaches, making a decision can be daunting. It's
important that a woman educate herself to be her own personal advocate
in helping her health care provider develop appropriate recommendations."
Dr. Minich compiled a list of five helpful tips women should consider
when choosing an option to help relieve their menopausal symptoms:
Know your symptoms and medical history.
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms or to the same degree, and
your symptoms may change over time. The type and severity of your
menopausal symptoms may also affect available choices for relief. Some
women may not be eligible for certain conventional options based on
their age or menopausal phase. Some may also have an increased risk of
adverse events to certain options due to personal or family health
Research conventional options and understand the
risks. Menopausal hormone therapies are not recommended for all
women or for milder symptoms, and are typically recommended at the
lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time possible due to
concerns of adverse events. And several other commonly recommended
conventional options lack supported data on efficacy and safety in use
for relief of menopausal symptoms.
Explore natural approaches for menopausal relief.
Phytoestrogens (e.g., soy, flax, hesperidin, flax, hops, kudzu, red
clover) and non-phytoestrogens (e.g., black cohosh, traditional
Chinese and Ayurvedic botanicals) are widely recommended, but may not
offer the same degree of menopausal relief or be an appropriate choice
for all women. However, a special and well-researched extract of
Siberian rhubarb known as ERr 731™ (the active ingredient in
Metagenics' Estrovera™) offers a safer and well-tolerated approach
that has also demonstrated comparable efficacy to hormone therapies
for relieving hot flashes in placebo-controlled studies--without the
associated risks. ERr 731 has also shown significant relief (compared
to placebo) for other common menopausal symptoms.
Consult your doctor. Having an open
dialogue with your physician is a vital step in the decision-making
process. When considering a natural option--even those that may be
available over the counter--consult a professional with experience
recommending these approaches so protocol adjustments can be made if
needed to find effective, personalized relief for menopausal symptoms.
Listen to your body and track progress.
After you've done your due diligence by researching all available
choices and talking with your doctor to develop a program, notice how
your body reacts to it. Keeping a hot flash diary can help you
identify if the recommendations are working effectively. If you
experience adverse effects, it may necessary to revisit other options.
The body is an important indicator of whether you've made the right
decision, so pay close attention to what it's telling you.
According to Minich, health care professionals in Europe have been
successfully recommending ERr 731 since 1993—with over 60 million doses
and no serious adverse events reported to date. Multiple, well-designed
clinical studies that demonstrate effective relief with ERr 731 have
been published. And Metagenics' Functional Medicine Research Center®
(FMRC) recently conducted a short-term clinical trial with Estrovera
that demonstrated noticeable improvements in psychological symptoms
(e.g., anxiety, depressed mood), somatic symptoms (e.g., hot
flashes/night sweats) and urogenital symptoms (e.g., urinary tract
symptoms, vaginal dryness) in just four weeks.
"In addition to finding the right option for menopausal symptoms, women
need to look at this transition as an ideal time to adopt healthy
habits—including healthy eating, appropriate nutritional supplementation
(e.g., bone nutrition) and regular exercise—that help maintain body
composition, bone density, cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance
and cognitive health," Minich said.