When you are going through menopause, it can be easy to look to prescription medications like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for relief from your symptoms. But with a host of recent studies highlighting the risk of prescription medications, many women are looking to natural alternatives. Out of these alternatives, one sticks out and is ever-present in most health food stores: soy.
Keep reading to learn more about using soy to ease menopausal symptoms.
What Is Soy?
Soy is a legume native to East Asia that swept the world as a low-cost, low-fat source of protein in the 20th Century. Today, it is as ubiquitous as corn in most grocery stores. Soy is championed as a healthy meat substitute. Only recently have soy's phytoestrogenic properties become known.
Soy doesn't just provide a healthy way to get essential proteins, it is thought to contain a unique plant compound called phytoestrogen. Some studies have linked phytoestrogens to an acute reduction in menopause symptoms, and many women have reported the same anecdotally.
How Can Soy Help during Menopause?
While the properties of phytoestrogens are not completely understood, it is thought that the plant compounds mimic estrogen in the human body, naturally balancing hormone levels by replacing lost estrogen, and blocking new estrogen from being created when levels are sufficient. Because estrogen imbalances are the main cause of disruption during menopause, helping to balance these levels can curb symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and night sweats.
Are There Any Risks?
Not much is known about the potential risks of phytoestrogens. However, as a consequence of adding outside hormones, women's bodies can become less capable of producing their own hormones. Also, some studies have linked high levels of these compounds to a higher risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, the increased risk of breast cancer from using HRT and other prescribed treatments is established.
What Are the Alternatives?
Women can also turn to other estrogenic herbs like black cohosh, dong quai, and ginseng. Unlike estrogenic herbs, hormone-regulating herbal supplements like Macafem do not introduce estrogenic compounds into the body, but instead stimulate natural hormone production, avoiding negative side effects. Many women also find success through lifestyle changes like increased exercise and a healthy balanced diet.
Follow the links below for more information about the symptoms of menopause and how to treat them.