Perimenopause and menopause concept. Documents about hormones.

what is the best natural alternative to hrt

Perimenopausal symptoms got you down? What are the different treatment options?

There are many natural approaches for perimenopause and various forms of HRT that can be effective in managing symptoms. Read on to learn about various options for this time of transition.

If you are starting to experience symptoms of perimenopause, this article will lay out various options to help manage this transition. First, what is perimenopause? It is the time around when a woman is considered officially in menopause. This can be determined by altered levels of various hormones or, more simply, menopause is “official” when a woman has not had a period in a year. What are some of these symptoms? Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, anxiety, decreased bone mineral density, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, mood swings and low libido due to the decreased production of estrogen and progesterone. Some treatment approaches treat only certain symptoms. As always, speak to your primary care provider if you are experiencing health concerns. This article is meant for informational purposes only.

Seed cycling is a favorite natural remedy for perimenopause. It utilizes two sets of seeds (pumpkin and flax for two weeks and then sunflower and sesame for two weeks) to provide a gentle estrogen and progesterone boost. Check out my article from March 10th for more information about seed cycling. This approach provides a general hormonal boost so that it may benefit many of the perimenopausal symptoms.

Addressing adrenal health can be very beneficial in managing menopause. The adrenal glands regulate many processes in the body and are particularly run down by chronic stress. Supporting adrenal health helps make us more resilient in the face of stressful situations. A robust self-care routine is crucial for adrenal health – prioritizing “me time,” setting boundaries on your commitments, saying no, and taking time to rest all parts of this process. Certain herbal remedies called “Adaptogens” are also very helpful in supporting adrenal health. Homeopathic remedies have some promise in helping manage menopausal symptoms. There are several combination remedies designed to target the most common manifestations of the

What is a good natural hormone replacement?

The perimenopause transition

perimenopausal transition. These remedies do not work for everyone but they are very gentle, affordable and will not interact with medications or other supplements.

There is an emerging body of research on the benefits of different breathwork and bodywork traditions in helping with perimenopause. Qi gong, tai chi, breathing exercises, and yoga have shown some benefits for menopause. Mindfulness training like meditation is also a good option to help decrease the intensity of certain menopausal challenges. Movement and breathwork are beneficial for fatigue, hot flashes, mood swings, and irritability. Tai chi and strength training has been shown to help decrease bone mineral density loss associated with menopause. See my article from March 23rd about weight training in menopause for more details.

Certain natural remedies will target one particular symptom. An example of this would be vaginal suppositories for the vaginal dryness commonly associated with menopause. Due to the drop in estrogen production, women may also experience vaginal atrophy – or a thinning of the skin in the vaginal walls. This can cause pain or discomfort during intercourse and decreased libido. Vitamin E suppositories can be purchased for supporting the vaginal tissue. Women may also make homemade suppositories using natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, calendula, and vitamin E. For more severe vaginal dryness or atrophy, estrogen suppositories may be needed. This is considered a stronger intervention and requires a prescription from your doctor. But the benefit is that it delivers estrogen only to the local tissue, which typically does not have systemic effects on the body. It is one of the more gentle types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

HRT is another option for perimenopause. It is particularly useful for women experiencing severe symptoms.  HRT encompasses many different possible interventions: estrogen suppositories, combination pills/patches/sprays and topical creams. Women need to speak with their doctor to understand the full risks and benefits of this type of treatment. HRT carries an increased risk of side effects, some of them serious. For a full discussion of the types of HRT, benefits and risks, refer to my March 1st article.

There are many options to manage perimenopausal symptoms. Knowledge is power, so arm yourself with a list of possibilities and then discuss those options with your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or a qualified natural healthcare provider. Many of these treatments can be used together to try a combination of different approaches to improve their quality of life and have a smoother transition into menopause.

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Dr. Jessica Keating
Owner & Physician , Willow Clinic of Natural Medicine
Jessica Lodal Keating graduated with her doctorate in chiropractic medicine from National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) in Lombard, IL in December of 2016. She graduated summa cum laude and salutatorian of her class. She completed a primary care internship at the in-house clinic in the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in downtown Chicago. There she was able to provide natural approaches to health and wellness to an under-served population. She also led efforts to solicit supplement donations from local doctors in order to provide these supplements to patients free of charge. During her time at NUHS, Dr. Keating also studied traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and became certified to perform acupuncture, moxabustion and fire cupping. She uses the wisdom of eastern medicine to complement her holistic approach to assessing each individual patient and treating the whole person. She participated in various other seminars and trainings over the course of her studies including MPI’s full-spine adjusting seminar and Apex’s Fundamentals of Functional Blood Chemistry. Dr. Keating also completed her Doctorate of Naturopathic medicine in 2018, graduating valedictorian and summa cum laude. Dr. Keating has worked in several natural primary care offices in the greater Chicagoland area. She is also a full-time naturopathic clinician at National University of Health Sciences. There she is able to help shape the next generation of naturopathic doctors. She has a home-call practice where she treats patients in the comfort of their own homes all around Chicagoland. Dr. Keating loves balancing private practice with teaching and clinical supervision. Dr. Jessica Keating received her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon before deciding to attend NUHS. After her undergrad degree, she grew frustrated with the field of political science and sought a new career path. Her own health had been dramatically improved through diet, yoga and herbal medicine. Because of these experiences, she decided to deepen her understanding of natural medicine by pursuing a higher degree. Dr. Keating remains committed to her own health journey on a personal and professional level. She aims to help others thrive and maintain optimal health by guiding them down the same path and educating her patients by empowering them to take their health into their own hands. Dr. Keating practices holistic, natural primary care. She treats GI conditions, autoimmune disorders, women’s health, sleep issues, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, back pain as well as working with patients on weight loss and general wellness promotion. She treats pediatric, adult and geriatric patients using diet, lifestyle modification, herbal medicine, physical medicine and acupuncture. In her free time, Dr. Keating loves reading, biking, cooking and playing with her cats. Dr. Keating also enjoys yoga, tennis, rollerblading, going to the movies and travelling with her husband. She has been to 28 different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America.
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