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A woman going through menopause may experience uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, depression, vaginal dryness, and fatigue. These effects frequently occur when the levels of the hormone estrogen decrease after a woman ceases menstruating. Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) can reduce or eliminate menopausal symptoms, but women are turning to alternatives because ERT has been linked with many types of cancer. Some of these alternatives to estrogen replacement therapy with proven effectiveness include acupuncture, antidepressants, lifestyle changes, and aromatherapy.
During an acupuncture treatment, very thin needles are inserted into specific points in the body to remove blockages in energy that can cause health problems. Studies show that acupuncture is one of the effective alternatives to estrogen replacement therapy because it causes a decrease in hot flashes. It hasn’t been determined whether this is because acupuncture increases the amount of estrogen in the body or if it is due to the increase in endorphins that this healing modality is known to cause. Some theorize that acupuncture might help the body regulate temperature, and this is what causes a reduction in the severity of hot flashes.
Antidepressants are another one of the alternatives to estrogen replacement therapy that have helped some women. Studies have shown that certain antidepressants reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Since antidepressants affect the brain by increasing the amount of serotonin, some believe that the close connection between estrogen and the brain causes a reduction in menopausal symptoms when antidepressants are used.
Several lifestyle changes can be employed as alternatives to estrogen replacement therapy. Regular exercise can help elevate a woman's mood and decrease the severity and frequency of mood swings. Weight-bearing exercises can increase muscle tone and lessen the rate of osteoporosis, the decrease in bone density that usually accompanies menopause.
Diet is another lifestyle change that can reduce some of the symptoms of menopause. Eating an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis. If a woman suffers from hot flashes and night sweats, eliminating alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine can help her reduce or eliminate these annoying conditions.
Aromatherapy is another one of the alternatives to estrogen replacement therapy that can ease some of the symptoms of menopause. Basil oil may ease the insomnia, depression, and fatigue that often accompany menopause. Peppermint and lavender may relieve headaches, and both patchouli and bergamot may reduce nervous tension.