Question : I HAVE been on an 80 per cent vegetarian diet for about five years now. I take spirulina regularly. Two years ago my period started to become irregular. It came twice in a month for two consecutive months. The medication prescribed by the doctor only helped to relieve the symptoms for only a few months. Am I approaching menopause? I am 43.
Answer : AS you are a vegetarian, the risk of getting not enough vitamin B12 is there as this vitamin is mostly obtained from meat and animal products. But you are on the right track supplementing with spirulina. Your irregular periods seem to indicate menopause.
A woman would normally go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 due to reduced oestrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries. The age varies according to several factors. One of these is body weight. Overweight people tend to menopause later. Common symptoms of menopause include amenorrhoea (absence of period), irregular periods like you are having now, increased or decreased flow, hot flushes, heart palpitations, low libido, tingling, chills, nervousness, excitability, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, depression, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, headaches, muscle and bone aches, and gastrointestinal disturbances. There may also be changes in frequency of urination, stress incontinence, unwanted hair and drying up of vaginal secretions and vaginitis. If menopause has been confirmed by a doctor, you may try taking a herbal supplement to help women cope with menopausal symptoms. This is a safer alternative than hormone replacement therapy. A good herbal supplement should contain black cohosh, dong quai, soya, red clover and sage.
Black cohosh is effective in treating perimenopausal symptoms and those arising from a lack of oestrogen and progesterone, such as hot flushes and night sweat. It is anti-inflammatory and may help to relieve menstrual cramps.
Dong quai, also known as ‘female ginseng’, helps to restore balance in a woman’s reproductive system by toning up the uterus, nourishing the blood and stimulating healthy circulation. Soya is high in isoflavones and is beneficial for menopause-related hot flushes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Recent evidence shows that red clover helps improve heart health in menopausal women.
Sage is for digestive disorders associated with PMS and excessive perspiration especially at night.
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