Herbal Medicine to Treat Menopause

Discover natural, effective ways to embrace this new stage of your life.

| May/June 2019

Photo by Getty Images/Juannonino

Editor’s note: The word “women” in this piece references some of the people who experience physiological menopause, but we understand that this term isn’t 100 percent inclusive, and inclusion is important. Menopause may also affect transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people.

As a physician, woman, and mother, caring for and connecting with women has always been near and dear to my heart. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of walking next to many women as they moved beyond their childbearing years. These experiences, along with countless hours of research, have allowed me to gain deeper insight into the menopausal journey, and I’m eager to share this knowledge in the interest of supporting women during this powerful change.

Before I get into some of the options available for managing symptoms, I want to clearly state that menopause need not be viewed as some sort of dreaded disease. Each woman goes through many reproductive phases over her lifetime, yet modern medicine has medicalized just about every aspect of these reproductive phases and transitions; each person must find a way to balance the symptoms she finds challenging with the predetermined practices that modern medicine assumes best for all women during menopause. Menopause is a transition, a gateway to the next part of our lives. Often, with lifestyle adjustments and natural approaches, the journey can be one of enlightenment and awakening.

Perimenopause: The Transition Begins

Perimenopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Assuming she has a uterus, this stage typically begins when a woman’s menstruation becomes irregular and estrogen levels fluctuate, and closes when a full calendar year passes without a menstrual period at all. Many women report experiencing more menopausal symptoms during perimenopause than at any other time in the menopause transition. Because menopause happens midlife when women tend to experience other aspects of aging, perimenopause is even more challenging to both recognize and manage.

So, when does perimenopause end and menopause begin? In women over 45, absent or irregular periods (along with the presence of symptoms, such as hot flashes) are usually enough to merit the “diagnosis” of menopause. Younger women who think they may be experiencing early menopause will need to work with a medical professional who can check hormone levels and administer other diagnostic tests.

5/7/2019 10:36:01 PM

Thanks for the excellent recommendations. I also really enjoy your interview segments on public radio’s program The Peoples’ Pharmacy.

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