CERTAIN IMAGES ARE COURTESY OF the US CDC AND USDA.
Researchers finds that even moderate exercise can help relieve the problems of
menopause in some women, including anxiety, insomnia and night sweats. However,
there is no proof exercise is a cure.  Probably, exercise promotes an overall sense of
well-being that helps women handle troublesome symptoms better.
Menopause (also called the "change of life") is a normal part of a woman's aging. It is the
time when her ability to have children comes to an end. In American women, the transition
into menopause usually begins around age 47, with the final menstrual period usually
around age 51. However, some women experience it earlier. Menopause occurs over a
period of time because the levels of a hormone called estrogen, which is produced by the
ovaries, begin to decline slowly. A woman is said to have completed natural menopause
when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row. Menopause will occur
immediately if a woman has her uterus and/or both ovaries removed surgically (an
operation to remove the uterus is called a hysterectomy). This is because at least one
ovary and the uterus are needed for a woman to have menstrual periods. Menopause
also begins right away if a woman's ovaries are damaged by cancer treatment with
radiation therapy or certain anticancer drugs.
Common symptoms during the menopausal transition
Some symptoms that women experience are related to menopause and decreased
activity of the ovaries. Others are related to aging in general. The scientific evidence that
certain symptoms are linked to menopause is strongest for the following symptoms:
Hot flashes, night sweats, or perspiring excessively (these are also called vasomotor
symptoms, because they involve expansion of the blood vessels)
Vaginal dryness (painful intercourse and sexual problems)
It is not certain whether the following symptoms are due to menopause or aging, or a
combination of them:
Changes in mood, such as depression, anxiety, and/or irritability
Problems in thinking or in remembering things
Urinary incontinence (that is, loss of ability to control urination)
Painful joints or muscles, such as tiredness and stiff joints
Conventional treatments for menopausal symptoms
For many decades, estrogen has been the main treatment in conventional medicine for
menopausal symptoms.1 For a long time this treatment was called hormone replacement
therapy (HRT), but the preferred term now is menopausal hormone therapy (MHT).
MHT has some other beneficial effects as well. For example, it helps to protect against
osteoporosis, an age-related disease in which the bones become brittle and can break
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa). This herb has received
more scientific attention for its possible effects on menopausal symptoms than have
other botanicals. Studies of its effectiveness in reducing hot flashes have had mixed
results. Recent research suggests that black cohosh does not act like estrogen, as once
was thought. Black cohosh has had a good safety record over a number of years. Some
concerns have been raised about whether it may cause liver problems, but an
association has not been proven.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense). Five controlled studies found no consistent or
conclusive evidence that red clover leaf extract reduces hot flashes. Clinical studies in
women report few side effects, and no serious health problems have been discussed in
the literature. However, animal studies have raised concerns that red clover might have
harmful effects on hormone-sensitive tissue (for example, in the breast and uterus).
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis). Only one randomized clinical study of dong quai has
been done. The researchers did not find it to be useful in reducing hot flashes.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius). Ginseng may help with some
menopausal symptoms, such as mood symptoms and sleep disturbances, and with one's
overall sense of well-being. However, it has not been found helpful for hot flashes.
Kava (Piper methysticum). Kava may decrease anxiety, but there is no evidence that it
decreases hot flashes. It is important to note that kava has been associated with liver
Soy. The scientific literature includes both positive and negative results for soy extracts
on hot flashes. When taken as a food or dietary supplement for short periods of time, soy
appears to have few if any serious side effects. However, long-term use of soy extracts
has been associated with thickening of the lining of the uterus.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a naturally occurring substance that is changed in the
body to the hormones estrogen and testosterone. It is also manufactured and sold as a
dietary supplement. The only randomized clinical trial of DHEA that has been done so far
found no benefit for hot flashes. The NIH SoS conference panel added that a few small,
nonrandomized studies have suggested that DHEA might possibly have some benefit for
hot flashes and decreased sexual arousal, but this has not been confirmed. The side
effects, risks, and benefits of using DHEA for longer than a few months have not been
Because levels of natural DHEA in the body decline with age, some people believe that
taking DHEA as a supplement can help treat or prevent conditions related to aging.
However, there is no good scientific evidence to support this popular notion.
REFERENCE Exercise suggested for menopause symptoms Associated Press Jun
8,2006. Do CAM Therapies Help Menopausal Symptoms? NCCAM Online Publication
May 12 2006.
Exercise may relieve menopause symptoms
Discuss with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine. This article is for