As the time for menopause approaches, a female starts experiencing hot flashes, difficulty in sleeping, and painful sex. Menopause occurs 12 months post a person experiences their last period and this time in between is known as perimenopause.(1) People start experiencing symptoms during this period. The symptoms are due to the fluctuation in progesterone and estrogen. Hormone replacement therapy is a solution to these symptoms but natural remedies can also be tried.
Symptoms of Perimenopause
Symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Changes in period
- Weight gain
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Heart palpitation
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Night sweats
- Bladder infection
- Less interest in sex
The bones density decreases, which increases the chances of fracture in a person. There are natural methods including dietary changes, exercise, and mindfulness techniques by which these symptoms of perimenopause can be managed.
11 Natural Remedies for Perimenopause
The effect of herbal supplements on perimenopause symptoms needs more research. Also, some herbal supplements may cause adverse effects that one needs to know about. Any supplements making bold claims should be avoided.
Black cohosh is used in the treatment of symptoms of perimenopause like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and night sweats.(2) The side effects of black cohosh include gastrointestinal problems, acute hepatitis, and rash.(3) It can also interact with prescription medication and it is, therefore, essential to speak to a healthcare professional before using it for any reason.
Red clover contains isoflavones and phytoestrogens that are similar to the hormone estrogen.(4) This is assumed to work but there is no evidence that supports its effectiveness.
Other Herbal Supplements
There are a few other herbal supplements that are considered useful to help with the symptoms of perimenopause. These include:
- Wild yam
- Pollen extract
- Evening primrose oil
The research on the effectiveness of the above herbal supplements is not present. However, one article published in 2019 had written that some of these supplements may interfere with certain medications.(5)
Mind and Body Interventions
Stress and depression occur during the perimenopausal phase. These can be relieved by some mind-body interventions, which include:
- Hypnosis: A study found that hot flashes could be easily treated with hypnosis as it was found to be as effective as venlafaxine, a common drug prescribed in the treatment of hot flashes.(5)
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): According to a study CBT was found to be effective in reducing mild depression and hot flashes.(5)
- Biofeedback and Relaxation Techniques: There are relaxation techniques that include progressive muscle relaxation. It may reduce how often a person may feel hot flashes. It may also reduce the psychological symptoms of perimenopause.
There is mindfulness-based stress reduction that may include a variety of exercises including yoga and meditation. It can effectively reduce stress, anxiety, and sleep quality. They may also improve hot flashes.
Aromatherapy can help in managing the psychological symptoms of perimenopause. A study was done on 90 people. It found that aromatherapy combined with massage was beneficial in reducing psychological symptoms.(6)
Maintaining moderate weight and exercise can help in alleviating vasomotor menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. A study found people with moderate to high levels of physical activity had less severe symptoms than those who were inactive.(7) Another study done in 2014 found that 12 weeks of moderate exercise did not alleviate vasomotor symptoms but improved sleep quality, insomnia, and depression.(8) Moderate levels of physical activity may include walking, jogging, cycling and swimming.
Foods rich in iron may help in reducing hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, and heart palpitations.(9) Foods rich in iron are dark chocolate, tomatoes, kidney beans, cashew nuts, white beans, and green vegetables.(10)
Foods Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D
Bone density decrease during perimenopause. It is important for people during this time to maintain bone health.(11) It is therefore important to increase the calcium and vitamin D intake and in case of excessively lower level supplements can be taken.
Foods rich in calcium include yogurt, cheese, milk, chia seeds, tofu, and soy milk. Vitamin D can be obtained from milk, soy milk, mushrooms, fish, and fortified cereals.
Phytoestrogens may help in reducing the symptoms of perimenopause including hot flashes.(12) However, the evidence is insufficient and there are health risks associated with the use of phytoestrogens. Therefore, phytoestrogens should be included in moderation in the diet and as a part of an overall balanced diet.
Tips to Prevent Hot Flashes
There are a few things that may trigger hot flashes which include alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods. These should be avoided during perimenopause.
Before trying any new treatment a doctor should be consulted, especially if taking hormonal or prescription medication. Supplements and herbal treatments also interfere with the medication and a healthcare professional may suggest the safest intervention.