Have we got a hot flash for you! Menopause symptoms are no longer a given. Not if you are open to exploring alternative treatment options. We checked in with Dr. Gary Goldman, a Park Avenue menopause specialist who takes an integrative, holistic approach.
“When I address menopause symptoms, I’m looking at the whole person. Her health, genetics and lifestyle, including nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, relationships and stress management,” says Dr. Goldman. “Holistic gynecology always includes the best aspects of traditional gynecological services, such as pap-smears, laboratory testing, breast exams, ultrasound and prescription medications when needed.”
The Big Chill
Do you go to sleep in North America and wake up at 3 am in a steaming Amazonian jungle? Dr. Goldman’s first choice for relief from hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia is,Black Cohosh made from a member of the buttercup family and used by Native Americans for a multitude of health issues. Black Cohosh is available in several over-the-counter products made from plant-based substances that have proven to be effective in clinical trials, such as Femquil, FlashArrest and Estrovera. Do your homework. “There are a lot of terrible unregulated supplement companies whose products do not contain what is on label. Know what you’re getting,” says Dr. Goldman.
Cleopatra had slaves to fan her at night. Get the same relief with a Cool Pillow that draws heat away from your head and neck. Or try BedJet, an HVAC system that blows cool air under just your side of the bed. Moisture-wicking jammies are another solution. We like Cool-Jams Inc., sleepwear so comfy you’ll want to wear it all day.
Can’t remember where you left your phone, car keys, under pants? Dr. Goldman says check your gut. “When you improve your nutrition, you improve brain function. You know the drill. More Omega-3 and antioxidants. Less carbs, sugar, animal fats, saturated fats and processed foods. Sorry, Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino. Healthy eating habits, coupled with portion control, will not only sharpen your brain but reduce menopausal weight gain.
Another remedy for fuzzy memory is increasing your hydration. “Water is a vital part of every biochemical process in our body. If your urine is clear, you are adequately hydrated. If it is dark, you are not,” says Goldman. In addition to the standard seven glasses of water per day, he suggests drinking an equal amount of water for every serving of alcohol, coffee or tea. Including those Frappuccino’s. Why? Because alcoholic beverages, coffee and tea are diuretics, causing you to flush more water out of your system than you take in.
Getting eight hours of sleep each night is key to combat brain fog. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you can improve your sleep by making your room dark and quiet, keep the room as cool as you can and getting help for dependence on alcohol and smoking.
Where did my libido go?
Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse are enough to lower any woman’s libido. “Start with over-the-counter lubricants such as Hyalogyn which contains hyaluronic acid, Mother Nature’s lubricant which is the same as in our joints,” says Goldman. If over-the-counter lubricants don’t do the trick, you can go high tech with non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation procedures that induce greater lubrication. “I have seen benefits with ThermiVa, a laser procedure that can be used without anesthetic in a doctor’s office,” says Goldman.
Libido loss isn’t just about lubrication. It’s about preferring Netflix to the Kama Sutra. To rev up your sex drive, there are a wide range of options. Dr. Goldman suggests Ristela, a plant-based, non-hormonal, oral supplement made from pine bark extract. However, never fear as hormone is no longer a dirty word. Today’s low-dose estrogens present none of the risks associated with previous higher dose equine estrogens such as Premarin made from the urine of pregnant horses.
“Estrogens are an excellent option for many women but not for every woman,” says Dr. Goldman. “Bio-identical estrogen, testosterone and androgen can be individually compounded and applied as creams topically, taken orally, inserted as vaginal pellets, applied as patches on the skin or inserted as a pellet under the skin.” He favors Beta Estrodial 17, which is known by many brand names, including Estrace and Activella. Taken orally or with a dermal patch, these low-dose estrogens not only jumpstart your libido but also reduce hot flashes and night sweats. What’s not to like?
Meditation, yoga, Shiatsu and acupuncture yield great benefits for menopause symptoms. “We are all multi-tasking and reducing stress is a major part of managing menopause,” says Dr. Goldman who recommends aerobic exercise to combat insomnia and weight gain.
If you feel your gynecologist has been talking just to your vagina, without taking into consideration your whole being, find a holistic or integrative gynecologist in your area to better address your menopausal concerns.