A husband asks, “Can you provide advice on how to treat my wife’s problem? It’s now impossible to live with her due to menopause. Her doctor has suggested hormones, but she refuses to take them because her mother died of breast cancer. Do you have any suggestions?”
Newspaper headlines linking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to cancer and heart disease have left an indelible mark on the minds of many women. Fortunately, there are other natural ways to ease menopausal problems.
Some women sail through menopause without trouble. For others, it means sleepless nights, embarrassing hot flashes, decreased sex drive, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, headaches, and an urge to kick the cat or their husband for trivial reasons.
One patient, a high school principal, routinely arrived for annual check ups without complaint. But recently she burst out crying and said: “I can’t handle my job. I’m out of control.” And she complained she was unable to take hormones since her mother had uterine cancer.
For women who fear hormones, a natural herbal product called “MenoSense” is available at health food stores across Canada without a prescription. It’s also been approved by Health Canada for its safety, effectiveness, and quality.
MenoSense is a combination of natural herbs. One herb, black cohosh, has been used by Native Americans to prevent a variety of complaints. Now it’s helping a generation of boomer women to stop the feeling that they’ve walked into an oven, have to turn up the air conditioner, or change bed sheets due to nighttime sweats.
Black cohosh works by blocking the pituitary gland from producing the luteinizing hormone responsible for hot flashes. Other studies show it may have a positive effect on mood by affecting serotonin receptors. It’s also reassuring for women to know that research reported in the International Journal of Oncology showed that black cohosh has no estrogenic activity.
Don quai, another herb in MenoSense, was used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and also helps to reduce hot flashes. Other herbs, such as Vitex and hesperidin, ease menopausal symptoms by increasing the production of progesterone and decreasing prolactin, which increases during menopause.
Gamma-oryzanol, produced from rice bran oil, is an antioxidant effective in relieving menopausal symptoms by lowering elevated blood levels of triglyceride and cholesterol. Results usually occur within 12 weeks.
During menopause, women make several errors, often through a lack of knowledge. The worst is failure to seek medical attention if they have emotional and physical problems affecting their quality of life. I cannot recall a single patient with bona fide menopausal problems who was not helped by treatment.
A second error occurs when doctors use the wrong medication. I recently saw a woman who had been prescribed Prozac by her doctor. She was still suffering from night sweats and other menopausal symptoms. This patient had a hormonal imbalance, and a ton of antidepressants would not cure her.
This patient, in addition to MenoSense, may also require a vaginal estrogen cream such as Premarin or Vagifem vaginal tablets to increase the thickness of the vaginal lining. Patients can be reassured that no study in the world has implicated the use of local estrogen to a malignancy.
Menopause is also a time when menstrual irregularity occurs. The usual pattern is fewer periods or less bleeding. But if there’s bleeding between periods or bleeding after an absence of a few months, this should be quickly reported to the doctor to rule out a malignancy. Fortunately, most abnormal bleeding is due to benign reasons, but never assume this is the case.
And I hope that husbands now know that something can be done to stop wives from kicking them.
Premarin Cream and Vagifem require a doctor’s prescription. MenoSense, an over-the-counter item, is available at health food stores in Canada and the United States.
Dr. Gifford-Jones is a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto. His website is Mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones