How To Balance Hormones During Menopause
During menopause, it’s common for women to notice a range of changes within their body. These may include, but are not limited to, symptoms such as hot flashes, a reduced sex drive, more frequent headaches, and moodiness¹. Many of these symptoms are due to varying levels of hormones brought on by this age and stage of life.
Thankfully, there are a number of healthy and natural ways that women can support healthy hormone balance and overall symptoms related to menopause.
Why Do Hormonal Imbalances Occur During Menopause?
Before, during, and after menopause, the hormones that are responsible for controlling a woman’s menstrual cycle and reproductive health–estrogen and progesterone–are produced less and less¹.
This change is what leads to the telltale symptoms of menopause: the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, as well as a number of other physical changes to the body.
It is important to note that the hormonal changes and symptoms that happen during menopause are the result of the body naturally changing over time and reaching a new status quo. Thus, the term ‘imbalance’ is not meant to imply any wrongdoing or ‘problem’ - it’s an acknowledgement of a natural and expected stage of life.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance During Menopause
During menopause, the most common types of hormone imbalances occur with estrogen and progesterone. The most common symptoms of hormone imbalance during menopause include¹:
- Hot flashes
- Irregular or abnormal menstrual cycles
- Weight gain
- Mood fluctuations
- Abnormal hair growth: coarser hair and growth around the chin are both common
- Lack of sex drive
- Increased risk of gum health problems
- Aching muscles and joints
Checking Hormone Levels during Menopause
Commonly, for those over 35 and experiencing symptoms consistent with menopause, blood tests will not be recommended as perimenopause will be inferred to be the cause of symptoms. However, healthcare professionals may choose to test hormone levels to get a clearer picture of what is causing symptoms. Most hormone tests are conducted through blood tests, but some require urine samples or use saliva to test hormone levels².
By having an honest conversation with your healthcare professional about why you might like to get your hormones tested, they may be better able to help with specific concerns. Many women do opt to have hormone levels checked in order to see if their symptoms are associated menopause or some other underlying cause, such as PCOS (polycistic ovarian syndrome) or thyroid dysfunction.
Natural Strategies to Balance Hormones
When it comes to balancing hormones during menopause, many women consider natural solutions for managing their symptoms.
Beginning or Continuing to Utilize a Healthy Diet
There is merit to maintaining a healthy diet throughout one’s life as it supports overall healthy aging. By maintaining a healthy diet, the body receives critical nutrients that support a wide range of body systems.
Additionally, limiting foods and drinks that tend to trigger or exacerbate symptoms associated with menopause may help alleviate some discomfort for some women ¹. Caffeine, for example, may bring on hot flashes due to the spike in heart rate and body temperature it causes. Alcoholic beverages may have the same effect¹.
Find Ways to Manage Stress
Stress can take an incredible toll on the body at any stage of life, but during an already challenging time like menopause, unchecked stress can pile on top of the symptoms already being experienced.
High levels of stress are known to cause things like headache, fatigue, and sleep difficulty, all of which can make managing menopause symptoms much more difficult³.
It’s no secret that menopause is, for many women, a very stress-inducing chapter of life. It’s important to seek out others (friends, family, other women going through menopause, etc.) during this time both to limit stress and to receive compassion and support.
The symptoms associated with hormone imbalances are common for many women going through menopause. Even if hormonal changes are natural, it’s still something that can dramatically impact a woman’s life.
Healthcare professionals are well-equipped to assist with mitigating the symptoms of menopause - it’s important to initiate the conversation if you have questions or concerns about your symptoms.
A healthy promoting diet and lifestyle, with an emphasis on stress management, will support an overall pattern of healthy aging and may help to manage hormone imbalance and symptoms associated with menopause.
- “Menopause: Age, Stages, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic. Accessed October 25, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21841-menopause
- “Hormone Testing.” Cedars. Accessed October 26, 2022. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/endocrinology/diagnosis-treatment/hormone-testing.html.
- “How Stress Affects Your Body and Behavior.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, March 24, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987.
- “Hormonal Imbalance: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic. Accessed October 26, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance.