Your Guide to Natural Menopause Supplements

Menopause. Perimenopause. Hot flashes. Insomnia. Irregular periods. Night sweats. Fatigue. Vaginal dryness. Bladder leakage. 

Yes, in this blog we’re talking about it all! It’s time to end the silence about this hormonal change in women.

Fortunately, most women are no longer as shy discussing this very real fact of life. Women are posting about their menopause experiences on social media, talking about it openly with their friends (and complete strangers), and there are articles about it online and in major news media.

This is a very good thing. And we want more of it. This is why we wrote this blog. We know you have questions about menopause and perimenopause. And we know it can be hard to know who to trust online.

Use this blog as your trusted resource for answers to questions about what menopause is and when it starts, natural menopause supplement options, hormonal changes during menopause, and more.

Please take advantage of the endnotes at the end of this blog, these are links to more articles and scientific research about menopause.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the point in time when a woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a period. Menopause is a normal part of aging and signals the end of your reproductive years.1

There are three stages of menopause: 1,2

  1. Perimenopause: may start up to 10 years before menopause as your ovaries produce less estrogen. Perimenopause lasts until menopause. During this time, you still have your period and can get pregnant. As your hormone levels change during this stage, you may experience fluctuations in your periods, hot flashes, night sweats, and other changes. On average, perimenopause begins at around age 47.
  2. Menopause: the point in time 12 months after your last period or spotting. Your ovaries no longer produce eggs and your estrogen production has almost stopped. The average age for menopause is 51.
  3. Postmenopause: this is the rest of your life after menopause. You no longer have monthly periods, cannot get pregnant, and have lower hormone levels. Menopause symptoms may continue for up to 10 years during this stage. Postmenopausal women are at higher risk for some health conditions including heart disease, weakened bones, or osteoporosis.

For most people, these three stages are gradual. It's very likely that your perimenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal symptoms and experience are unique from that of your friends and family members.

And this is why it’s so important to talk about what you’re living with – the more you, me, and everyone else share and learn about this normal phase of life, the easier it is to know what to expect and how to live our best lives during this life transition.

What Age Does Menopause Start?

In the United States, the average age for menopause is 51. However, some women experience this earlier or later in life. It really depends on your body and you cannot control when this transition occurs. 1

Researchers have found that factors such as smoking, high physical activity levels, hypertension, having a mother who entered menopause early, or a diet high in polyunsaturated fats, and strangely enough, not drinking alcohol, may accelerate the onset of menopause.3

How do Hormones Change During Menopause?

During menopause, your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels change, declining to low levels. Your testosterone levels also decline, though this is age-related, not menopause-related.4,5,6,7

  • Estrogen: is your main female hormone, responsible for the health and growth of female reproductive organs. This hormone supports vaginal lubrication and blood flow and elasticity. It enables the growth of breast tissue and causes the lining of your uterus to thicken during your menstrual cycle.

Estrogen also has a role in urinary tract health, heart and blood vessel function, bone thickness, pelvic muscle strength, and is active in supporting your brain, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal health.

During menopause, estrogen levels start declining and ultimately reach a very low level. Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, heart palpitations, headaches, vaginal dryness, insomnia, bone loss, metabolic health challenges, and insomnia are caused by declining estrogen levels.

  • Progesterone: the primary role of this hormone is to prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to support the growth of a fertilized egg. If a pregnancy doesn’t happen, the endometrium is shed during your period. If you do become pregnant, your progesterone levels increase to support your pregnancy.

During perimenopause, your ovaries produce lower amounts of progesterone, stopping production when you reach menopause. As your progesterone levels decline, you may notice your period becomes heavier, irregular, or longer.

  • Testosterone: typically considered a male hormone, testosterone does have a role in female sexual and physical health. Testosterone has a primary role in female estrogen production and contributes to female libido. Additionally, this hormone helps women maintain their bone and muscle mass.

While testosterone is not impacted by menopause, levels in women do decline with age. In fact, your ovaries continue to make testosterone even after estrogen production ends.

These lower levels of testosterone may result in lower energy levels, reduced sex drive, poor concentration, loss of muscle mass and strength, and bone loss.

What are The Signs and Symptoms of Menopause?

It happened out of the blue, one night Jessica woke up and could not get back to sleep. She was wide awake, for no reason at all. Jessica spent the night tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep.

Then a few days later she suddenly felt overly warm, as if someone had turned up the thermostat in her body. This pattern of sleepless nights and uncomfortably warm feelings continued for a while.

And then Jessica noticed her periods had changed, going from barely noticeable to very heavy. This was a big adjustment and did result in a couple of surprises.

After living with these symptoms and changes in her body for a few months, Jessica decided to talk to a close friend about what was happening. Turns out, Jessica’s friend, Sally had very similar experiences. But Sally also had night sweats and a feeling like her heart was pounding in her chest.

Both Jessica and Sally were experiencing signs and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

What we want Jessica, Sally, and you to know is that perimenopause and menopause symptoms should never be ignored. These symptoms do impact your family and work life, relationships, energy levels, social life, and mental health.

Your menopause and perimenopause experience is unique. You may have very minor symptoms or have symptoms well into postmenopause.

Common signs and symptoms of menopause and perimenopause:8,9,10

  • Changes to your period: this is typically the first thing women notice. Your period may become heavier or lighter. Your period may be shorter or longer. Your once regular 28-day cycle might become impossible to predict.
  • Bladder control challenges: the sudden urge to pee, leaking urine when sneezing, coughing, exercising, laughing, or walking are common symptoms. Contact your doctor if you have frequent bladder incontinence issues.
  • Insomnia or poor sleep: you wake up for no reason in the middle of the night and can’t ge back to sleep, you can’t fall into a deep sleep, or after waking up to got the bathroom, you simply cannot fall back to sleep.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats: these are two of the most common symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. A hot flash is a sudden change and feeling of heat in your upper body. You may notice your face and neck become flushed and/or red blotches appear on your arms, chest, and back. Some people also experience heavy sweating and shivering. These hot flashes and night sweats can be very uncomfortable and follow an unpredictable schedule.
  • Vaginal atrophy: thinning and dryness of your vaginal tissues and urethra are caused by declining estrogen levels. This may cause sex to be uncomfortable and contribute to urinary tract infections, cystitis, or vaginitis.
  • Mood changes: you may notice you have less patience, feel irritable more often, or simply do not feel like yourself. While researchers do not know why this happens during menopause, you should not ignore mood changes. Discuss these with your family doctor.
  • Metabolic health challenges: while you haven't changed your diet or excercise routine, you notic you have gained weight and have lost musscle mass. Arrange body composition changes are associated with changes to your metabolic health during menopause including weight gain, increased insulin resistance, changes in cholesterol levels, and joint, bone and muscle health conditions.

Other potential signs and symptoms of menopause may include heart palpitations, low energy levels, memory and concentration challenges, headaches, thinning or loss of hair on your head, hair growth on your face, neck, chest, and upper back, or dry eyes, skin, and mouth.11

How Do I Know if I’m In Menopause?

You are in menopause if you have not had your period (including spotting) for 12 consecutive months. Typically, you know you are in perimenopause and approaching menopause due to the occurrence of common menopause symptoms. 1

Depending on your health status and family history, your doctor may suggest a blood test to determine estradiol and FSH levels or other diagnostic tests. 11

What Are My Natural Menopause Supplement Options?

Natural menopause supplements may help you manage your menopause and perimenopause symptoms. Before we highlight the supplement ingredients that may ease your menopause symptoms, we need to talk about hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is a recognized and approved treatment for relieving menopause symptoms.12

There are two types of HRT: estrogen therapy and estrogen progesterone/progestin therapy. Depending on your symptoms, these may be prescribed by your doctor as a patch, pill, gel or spray, cream, or vaginal insert or ring. 1

HRT is only available by prescription from your doctor. Depending on a range of factors including your age, health status, family history, and more, you can decide with your doctor if this approach is right for you. 12

Thankfully, HRT prescriptions are not the only answer.

Here are 8 evidence-based supplement ingredients that may provide natural menopause relief: 13,14,15 *

  1. Black cohosh (Actea racemosa) root may help reduce night sweats and hot flashes. However, avoid this herb if you have a liver condition.
  2. Red clover (Trifolium pratense) blossoms may be helpful in alleviating hot flashes and night sweats and potentially slow bone loss.
  3. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) root may provide mood support, reduce vaginal dryness, and lowered sex drive.
  4. Korean red ginseng root (Panax ginseng) may provide positive support for mood changes, insomnia, and overall mental health. Ginseng may react with some blood thinners, cholesterol, and blood pressure medication. Talk to your doctor before taking ginseng.
  5. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root is a common ingredient in nighttime tea and may provide relief for insomnia and sleeplessness. If you are taking any medications for anxiety, sleep, or pain you should not take valerian.
  6. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root may help reduce hot flashes, provide relief for bladder control concerns, and provide stress relief.
  7. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seed extract may help relieve hot flashes and night sweats and provide support for low libido.
  8. Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) root may provide support for low libido symptoms related to menopause.

Take your time and do your own research about these natural menopause supplement ingredients and always remember to learn about the company manufacturing your supplements. Quality ingredients equal quality supplements.

How Can I Treat My Menopause Symptoms Naturally?

The good news is there are accessible lifestyle habits that may help you manage and treat your menopause symptoms naturally.

From eating a balanced diet, getting daily exercise, lifting weights, taking natural menopause supplements, to adding in a daily walk – you have the power to live your best life during perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.16,17,18,19,20

  • Daily Exercise: changing hormone levels have trickle-over impacts on your muscle mass, bone strength and density, metabolic health, mood, sleep quality, heart health, and weight management.

Incorporating cardio-based exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, running, kayaking, etc. may help reduce risks of heart conditions and manage metabolic concerns associated with low estrogen levels.

Strength training activities including lifting weights, yoga, and other weight-bearing exercises may help slow bone loss, help maintain bone density, slow the onset of osteoporosis, encourage muscle growth and retention, and support a healthy metabolism.

  • Balanced Diet: getting a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals and sufficient protein and carbohydrates are helpful in supporting bone health, mental health, cardiovascular health, body composition, insulin resistance, and maintaining muscle mass.

New research shows that perimenopausal and menopausal women may benefit from consuming protein at every meal. Protein along with strength-based exercises may help you maintain and build muscle mass and encourage positive energy levels. Eating protein-rich foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, dairy, meat, and protein powder supplements can help you feel full, increase your metabolism, and may help with weight management.

Eating foods high in calcium such as dairy, green leafy vegetables, beans, sardines, and calcium-rich foods may help support your bone health as well as provide you with a range of vitamins and minerals.

Along with eating protein at every meal, make sure you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables. These foods are a prime source of essential nutrients, contributing to your overall health and well-being.

  • Track Your Menopause Symptoms: the more you understand how your body is changing and reacting during this life stage, the easier it is for you to manage and treat your menopause symptoms.

Use a journal or tap out notes on your smartphone, jotting down notes about your menopause symptoms, daily activity, foods you eat, and sleep routine. After a few weeks, you may notice some patterns associated with your menopause symptoms.

For example, some people notice they cannot tolerate caffeine after 11:00 a.m. or that spicy foods are associated with hot flashes and night sweats. You may find that on days you go for an extra walk or can sleep with the windows open, your sleep quality is improved.

Remember, your menopause experience is unique – so knowing what triggers the onset of your menopause symptoms goes a long way in improving your quality of life.

  • Stress and Mood Management: feelings of anxiety, low mood, tension, or anger are common with menopause. Talk openly with your family members and friends about what you are experiencing – explain how menopause and changing hormone levels may impact mood and stress levels.

Try to find ways to help you relax and ease symptoms of mood changes such as daily exercise, meeting with friends, doing relaxing activities, taking time for yourself, or taking natural menopause supplements shown to help with mood-related menopause symptoms. Please discuss mood changes with your family doctor.

How to Manage Hot Flashes and Night Sweats Naturally

Hot flashes and night sweats are a big deal, affecting your home, work, and social life. These natural strategies may help you manage hot flashes and night sweats: 13,21,22

  • Keep your bedroom cool at night
  • Take a cool bath or shower before bed
  • Use a fan in your home and office
  • Avoid your triggers such as caffeine, spicy foods, stressful situations, alcohol, and smoking
  • Wear lighter clothing during the day and at night
  • Exercise daily
  • Take natural menopause supplements
  • Dress in layers
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation

Hint: for extra reading about menopause, staying active, and your natural menopause supplement options, we highly recommend Next Level by Dr. Stacy T. Sims and Selene Yeager. Thank you for reading this far! This is a very long blog – but we really want you to have as much trusted information as possible about living a full life during your menopausal and postmenopausal years.

Our final message about menopause is this: let’s keep the conversations going, keep talking about menopause with your friends, family, doctor, and strangers. It’s time to be upfront and open about this very normal life change and how it impacts women (and men). We look forward to seeing more articles and research about menopause.

Consult your healthcare team before making changes to your nutrition, exercise, or supplements. Discuss all supplements, including the vitamins and minerals you take or plan to take, as these may interact differently with underlying health conditions and medication. Always follow the suggested use instructions and read the warnings on the supplement product label before consumption.

References

  1. Menopause: Cleveland Clinic (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21841-menopause
  2. Hormones and Menopause What You Need to Know: Endocrine Society (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.endocrine.org/-/media/endocrine/files/patient-engagement/hormones-and-series/hormones_and_menopause_what_you_need_to_know.pdf
  3. Ceylan B, –zerdoğan N. Factors affecting age of onset of menopause and determina tion of quality of life in menopause. Turk J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Mar;12(1):43-49. doi: 10.4274/tjod.79836. Epub 2015 Mar 15. PMID: 28913040; PMCID: PMC5558404. (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5558404/
  4. Changes in Hormone Levels: The North American Menopause Society (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife/changes-in-hormone-levels
  5. Estrogen’s Effect on the Female Body: John Hopkins Medicine ( Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/estrogens-effects-on-the-female-body
  6. Progesterone: Cleveland Clinic (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/24562-progesterone
  7. Scott A, Newson L. Should we be prescribing testosterone to perimenopausal and menopausal women? A guide to prescribing testosterone for women in primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2020 Mar 26;70(693):203-204. doi: 10.3399/bjgp20X709265. PMID: 32217602; PMCID: PMC7098532. (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7098532/
  8. What is Menopause: National Institute on Aging (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause
  9. Introduction to Menopause: John Hopkins Medicine (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/introduction-to-menopause
  10. Hyvärinen, M., Juppi, HK., Taskinen, S. et al. Metabolic health, menopause, and physical activity—a 4-year follow-up study. Int J Obes; 46, 544–554 (2022). (Accessed August 3, 2023) < href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-021-01022-x">https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-021-01022-x
  11. Everything You Should Know About Menopause: Healthline.com (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause
  12. Hormone Therapy: Benefits & Risks: The North American Menopause Society (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/hormone-therapy-benefits-risks
  13. Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes: The North American Menopause Society (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/natural-remedies-for-hot-flashes
  14. 10 Herbs and Supplements for Menopause: Healthline.com (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/menopause-herbs
  15. Gopal S, Ajgaonkar A, Kanchi P, Kaundinya A, Thakare V, Chauhan S, Langade D. Effect of an ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) root extract on climacteric symptoms in women during perimenopause: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2021 Dec;47(12):4414-4425. doi: 10.1111/jog.15030. Epub 2021 Sep 22. PMID: 34553463. (Accessed August 2, 2023) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34553463/
  16. Mishra N, Mishra VN, Devanshi. Exercise beyond menopause: Dos and Don'ts. J Midlife Health. 2011 Jul;2(2):51-6. doi: 10.4103/0976-7800.92524. PMID: 22408332; PMCID: PMC3296386. (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296386/
  17. 11 Natural Remedies for Menopause Relief: Healthline.com (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-natural-menopause-tips
  18. The Role of Diet in Managing Menopausal Symptoms: A Narrative Review (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/nbu.12607
  19. 4 Reasons Why Menopausal Women Should Lift Heavy Sh*t: Feisty Menopause (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://www.feistymenopause.com/blog/liftheavyweights
  20. Stachowiak G, Pertyński T, Pertyńska-Marczewska M. Metabolic disorders in menopause. Prz Menopauzalny. 2015 Mar;14(1):59-64. doi: 10.5114/pm.2015.50000. Epub 2015 Mar 25. PMID: 26327890; PMCID: PMC4440199. (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440199/
  21. Menopause Things You Can Do: NHS.uk (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/things-you-can-do/
  22. Hot Flashes: What Can I Do? (Accessed August 3, 2023) https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-flashes-what-can-i-do

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University’s Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, H erb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.