Menopause is an important change in a woman’s life. In simple terms, it is the transition from a reproductive to a non-reproductive stage in life.
One reaches the menopause phase only after going one year without any menstrual periods.
Menopause is a natural process that occurs as the ovaries age and produce less reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
The average age that American women reach menopause is 52, but it can occur at any time between the ages of 45 and 58, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1).
While age is thought to be genetically determined, there are several factors that influence when a woman reaches menopause.
A 2011 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinics of North America reports that a number of factors are important determinants of the age at which natural menopause occurs.
Such factors include demographics, such as education, employment, and race/ethnicity; menstrual and reproductive factors, such as parity and oral contraceptive use; familial and genetic factors; and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, weight, physical activity and diet (2).
As the body transitions through menopause, several symptoms can appear as a result of hormonal and other changes.
These may include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, weight gain, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, dry skin, increased urination, tender breasts, headaches, urinary tract infections, reduced muscle mass, painful or stiff joints, reduced bone mass, hair thinning or loss, and increased hair growth on other areas of the body like the face, neck, chest and upper back.
You won’t necessarily experience all the symptoms. It’s different for every woman. The symptoms may last anywhere from a few months to several years.
While the symptoms can affect your quality of life, bear in mind that menopause is not a disease, and there is no reason for it to make your life less enjoyable.
To deal with menopause, there are many simple lifestyle changes and home remedies that can help manage the symptoms.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for menopause relief.
1. Keep Yourself Cool
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It is important to manage them, as they can lead to poor sleep, a decreased quality of life and may even worsen depressive symptoms.
To deal with hot flashes, you need to take steps to reduce the sweating and lower your body temperature.
- Dress in layers, so you can “take it off” if you feel yourself flushing.
- Avoid clothes made of wool, silk and other non-breathable fabrics, which lock in heat and increase body temperature. Instead, wear fibers that allow more air to flow through them, such as cotton.
- Stay in a cool, comfortable air-conditioned room whenever possible. If you do not have an air conditioner, sit by an open window or use a portable desk fan.
- Practice deep breathing to keep your body temperature cool.
- Drink more water to help regulate your internal temperature.
- Avoid sunbathing or sitting in a sauna if you are prone to hot flashes.
- Avoid eating hot and spicy foods, which may trigger you to sweat more.
Regular exercise will not reduce menopause symptoms, but it can help relieve stress, improve your mood, prevent cognitive decline and improve your quality of life.
Also, exercise can alleviate some of the sleep problems that many menopausal women experience.
In addition, it can reduce risk factors associated with menopause complications, including heart disease, high inflammation, bone loss or muscle wasting, and chronic stress.
A 2014 study published in Menopause reports that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise does not alleviate vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, but it leads to improvements in sleep quality, insomnia and depression in midlife sedentary women (3).
A 2016 study published in Menopause Review reports that controlled and regular exercise for 12 weeks significantly correlated with a positive change in vitality and mental health in menopausal women (4).
Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, most days of the week.
3. Deep Breathing
Symptoms like sleep disruption, night sweats and hot flashes can be reduced to a great extent by practicing deep breathing.
Deep breathing will also reduce stress levels as well as help ease anxiety and tension. When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.
A 2010 study published in Maturitas suggests that yoga-based and certain other mind-body therapies like deep breathing may be beneficial for alleviating various menopausal symptoms (5).
Another study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences shows that deep breathing and walking exercise was helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms (6).
Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening and at the onset of a hot flash.
To perform deep breathing:
- Lie down on your back in a comfortable place. (You can do this in a seated position if you are at work or somewhere you cannot lie down.)
- Put your hands on your abdomen and try to relax your muscles.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your abdomen and filling your lungs with air. Count slowly to 5 as you inhale.
- Hold your breath and count to 3.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth and empty your lungs completely. Again, count slowly to 5 as you exhale.
- Continue to inhale and exhale deeply for 15 minutes.
Flaxseed can also be very helpful in the management of menopause symptoms.
It has phytoestrogens, naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and reduce the severity of hot flashes.
In a 2007 study published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, 29 women with hot flashes were asked to eat 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of crushed flaxseed daily for six weeks. At the end of the study, the average number of hot flashes dropped by half and their severity fell by 57 percent (7).
Regular intake of flaxseed also helps improve mood and reduce joint and muscle pain.
It’s easy to incorporate 1.5 ounces of ground flaxseed into your daily diet. Simply add it to your oatmeal, yogurt, soup or smoothie to enjoy the benefits.
5. Vitamin E
To deal with menopause symptoms, vitamin E is very effective.
Vitamin E has estrogen and can effectively eliminate or reduce the severity of hot flashes in menopausal women. It also replaces necessary electrolytes that the body loses through sweating.
A 2007 study published in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation concludes that vitamin E is effective for the treatment of hot flashes (8).
Being an antioxidant, it helps fight cell-damaging free radicals and reduces inflammation in the body. It can also reduce the risk of depression, heart disease and weight gain, which are common during menopause.
- A daily dose of 400 IUs of vitamin E capsules can help reduce hot flashes. Take one 200 IU capsule twice a day with meals. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
- Also, include vitamin E-rich foods in your diet, such as wheat germ, almonds, hazelnuts, avocado, broccoli, shellfish, squash, sunflower seeds and spinach.
Caution: Do not take vitamin E in high doses, as it can increase your risk of bleeding.
Ginseng is an effective herb that can help address several menopause symptoms.
It can reduce the occurrence and severity of hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women. It also helps with other problems like fuzzy thinking, memory problems, inability to concentrate and fatigue. It even improves the feeling of overall well-being and fights the impact of stress on your body.
A 2012 study published in Menopause reports that red ginseng can help postmenopausal women lessen their risk of cardiovascular disease (9).
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports that oral administration of Korean red ginseng extracts improved sexual arousal in menopausal women (10).
Ginseng is available in powdered, dried or fresh root form that can be chewed or brewed as tea. It is also available as tablet or capsule supplements and liquid extract. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
Caution: Do not take ginseng if you’re taking heart, blood pressure, diabetes or blood-thinning medications.
The ancient healing art of acupuncture can provide relief from menopause symptoms, especially hot flashes.
In acupuncture, thin needles are inserted on specific nerve points on the body to help release hormones like cortisol, endorphins and serotonin. This in turn helps reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
A 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal concludes that use of acupuncture in addition to self-care can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction of hot flashes and increased health-related quality of life among women going through menopause (11).
A 2010 study of 267 women published in Menopause found that women who received 10 acupuncture treatments in 12 weeks had far fewer hot flashes.
These women also slept better and had less pain. On the downside, the follow-up results at six and 12 months showed that the therapy may not have long-term effects (12).
Another study published in Menopause in 2016 found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in vasomotor symptoms and several quality-of-life measures compared with no acupuncture, and the clinical benefit persisted for at least six months beyond the end of treatment (13).
Get acupuncture treatment done by an experienced practitioner only.
8. Red Clover
Red clover is another effective herb for managing menopause symptoms. This herb contains plant isoflavones that have estrogen-like properties that help relieve hot flashes.
A 2005 study published in Gynecological Endocrinology reports that red clover isoflavone supplementation in postmenopausal women significantly decreased menopausal symptoms and had a positive effect on vaginal cytology and triglyceride levels (14).
A 2012 study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research showed that red clover supplementation had a desirable effect on menopausal women’s quality of life (15).
To reap the benefits, you can drink red clover tea.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dried red clover to 1 cup of boiling water.
- Cover, let it steep for 15 to 20 minutes and then strain it.
- Drink up to 2 cups of this herbal tea daily.
Caution: As red clover can influence other medications, speak with your doctor before trying it.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an effective remedy to deal with hot flashes, the most common symptom of menopause.
It helps regulate toxins that the body is trying to eliminate through perspiration. This, in turn, reduces the incidence and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.
The natural antioxidant properties of apple cider vinegar also boost the body’s natural functioning. It even alkalinizes the body, which may help with headaches and other symptoms of menopause.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of lukewarm water.
- Add a little honey and mix well.
- Drink it twice daily until the symptoms subside.
10. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a simple and effective remedy for hot flashes.
The minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, in molasses help maintain the health of uterine muscles.
As blackstrap molasses is rich in B vitamins, it promotes proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as helping promote relaxation and fighting stress and fatigue. Also, the iron in it helps reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
To reap the benefits of blackstrap molasses, all you need is 1 to 2 tablespoons of it a day. You can mix it into coffee, add it to oatmeal or take it straight off the spoon!
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Kecia Gaither MD (Obstetrician and Gynecologist)
Are there any therapies available to subdue the side effects of menopause?
Certain non-hormonal or naturopathic medications/therapies have been found to be useful in alleviating the discomforts associated with menopause to some extent. These include:
- Black cohosh, an herb belonging to the buttercup family of plants, found to decrease hot flashes and lower blood pressure in some menopausal women as per certain studies.
- Since soy is a natural source of plant estrogens, increasing its consumption might provide some degree of relief from menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes or night sweats.
- Flaxseeds are also replete with phytoestrogens along with omega 3 fatty acids which besides ameliorating menopause symptoms, might engender a cholesterol-lowering effect.
- Vitamin E applied topically to the vagina may help decrease vaginal dryness. Moreover, this essential nutrient is also known to reduce hot flashes.
- Since dehydration can aggravate hot flashes, keeping yourself adequately hydrated is the key. Drink plenty of cold water and fruit juices, both of which contain antioxidant vitamins that help the body deal better with menopause.
- Engage in a bit of yoga, exercise, and acupuncture to diminish the intensity of your symptoms.
Are there any supplements to correct the hormonal imbalance brought on by menopause?
Estrogen-mediated hormonal options may address hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and are available in the form of pills, patches, or ointments/ creams/ lubricants depending on the issue at hand.
Since the characteristic decrease in estrogen during menopause also triggers an increased bone loss in women, the threat of osteoporosis becomes even more pronounced.
In this regard, there are certain medications which can be administered to address the osteoporosis-related discomforts through estrogen-mediated functionality, or agents which act directly within the bones themselves.
Does hormonal imbalance cause weight gain in menopausal women?
Increased weight gain, particularly around the mid-section, is commonly observed among menopausal women. Women who experience such weight-related issues conversely become more susceptible to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How can one know that the menopause phase has ended?
The “menopausal phase” doesn’t end. Once a woman is menopausal, she is menopausal for life.
Is it possible to delay the onset of menopause?
That would be an unequivocal no since menopause is something that every woman goes through without exercising any control over when it happens.
It is characterized by a decline in ovarian function coupled with cessation of menses (for 1 year ). The time of its onset can differ from women to women as it is genetically determined.
However, most women experience menopause as they reach the age of 51. Menopause is considered to be a hormonally mediated phenomenon which occurs due to the decline of estrogen/progesterone secretion in the body. As a result, many bodily functions get affected and the menopausal symptoms set in.
About Dr. Gaither MD, MPH, FACOG: Dr. Gaither is a double board-certified physician in OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln.
- Alcohol and tobacco can have negative effects and actually make the symptoms of menopause worse. So, try to avoid them completely.
- Particular environmental, physical or mental situations can set off a symptom. Try to identify your triggers and avoid them.
- Cut back on coffee, as the caffeine is a stimulant and can aggravate hot flashes.
- At the onset of a hot flash, sip a glass of cold water, lemon water or any kind of cold drink.
- If you’re overweight or obese, lose weight to ease hot flashes.
- Soak in early morning sunshine for at least 10 or 15 minutes to nourish your body with vitamin D.
- Take vitamin B supplements after consulting your doctor.
- Get enough sleep to help you feel your best. Try to sleep in a cool room, and keep a glass of cold water nearby.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help you cope better with hot flashes.
- Include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
- Limit saturated fats, oils, and sugars.
- To maintain the strength of your bones, eat more foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor by doing Kegel exercises. This can improve some forms of urinary incontinence.
- Avoid excessive bathing or swimming, which can dry out or irritate your skin.
- Too much stress and anxiety in life can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health, so try to control your stress level.
- Menopause basics. womenshealth.gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics. Published May 22, 2018.
- The Timing of the Age at Which Natural Menopause Occurs. Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinics of North America. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285482. Published September 2011.
- Efficacy of exercise for menopausal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23899828. Published April 2014.
- Twelve-week exercise training and the quality of life in menopausal women – clinical trial. Menopause Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828504. Published March 2016.
- Mind-body Therapies for Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review. Maturitas. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031101. Published June 2010.
- Effectiveness of deep breathing and walking exercise in reducing menopausal symptoms among women at Karadivavi, India. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. http://www.msjonline.org/index.php/ijrms/article/view/4619.
- Pilot evaluation of flaxseed for the management of hot flashes. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17761129. Published 2007.
- The Effect of Vitamin E on Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women. Karger Publishers. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/106491. Published July 30, 2007.
- Effects of red ginseng supplementation on menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Menopause. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22027944.
- Effects of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Arousal in Menopausal Women: Placebo‐Controlled, Double‐Blind Crossover Clinical Study. Journal of Sexual Medicine. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01700.x. Published February 05, 2010.
- The acupuncture treatment for postmenopausal hot flushes (Acuflash) study: traditional Chinese medicine diagnoses and acupuncture points used, and their relation to the treatment response. British Medical Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19734379. Published September 2009.
- The Acupuncture on Hot Flashes Among Menopausal Women study: observational follow-up results at 6 and 12 months. Menopause. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20009958. Published March 2010.
- Acupuncture in Menopause (AIM) study: a pragmatic, randomized controlled trial. Menopause. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27023860. Published June 2016.
- The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gynecological Endocrinology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373244. Published November 2005.
- The effects of red clover on quality of life in post-menopausal women. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590693. Published 2012.