Menopause: Comprehensive Research on Which Supplements Work

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This natural transition in a woman’s life can bring about various changes, both physically and emotionally. While menopause is a normal part of aging, its symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances, can disrupt daily life for many women. In this article, we explore how certain nutritional supplements might alleviate some of these symptoms and contribute to overall well-being during this stage of life.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is a significant milestone in a woman’s life, marking the end of her reproductive years, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. It’s a natural part of aging where menstruation stops, driven by a decline in reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries.

As these hormonal levels drop, women often experience a variety of symptoms that signal the onset of menopause, including irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, decreased libido, and changes in how their body distributes weight. While menopause is a normal phase of life, factors like genetics, smoking, chemotherapy, and certain medical treatments can influence when it starts or make the symptoms feel more intense. Understanding what triggers these changes and knowing what symptoms to expect can help women navigate this transition with greater ease and confidence.

What Is Peri-Menopause?

Perimenopause, the transitional phase preceding menopause, typically begins in a woman’s 40s and is marked by a gradual decline in ovarian function and hormone production. This period, which can last for several years, is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, fluctuations in hormone levels, and symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, and changes in libido. While the primary cause of perimenopause is the natural aging process, factors like genetics, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions can influence its onset and severity. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding the underlying causes of perimenopause is crucial for women to manage this phase effectively and maintain their overall health as they transition into menopause.

What Food and Lifestyle Factors Are Important For Managing Symptoms of Menopause?

  • Healthy Diet: Incorporate a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to support overall health and manage weight fluctuations.
  • Calcium-Rich Foods: Include calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods to support bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin D: Ensure adequate vitamin D intake through foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and exposure to sunlight to support calcium absorption and bone health.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Consume sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts to help reduce inflammation and support heart health.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol, which can exacerbate symptoms like hot flashes and disrupt sleep.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, including aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises, to support mood, bone health, and overall well-being.
  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help alleviate symptoms like mood swings and promote relaxation.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritize good sleep hygiene by maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques to improve sleep quality and reduce disturbances.
  • Quit Smoking: If you smoke, consider quitting, as smoking can worsen symptoms like hot flashes and increase the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and help alleviate symptoms like dry skin and vaginal dryness.

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article aims to offer valuable insights into which nutritional supplements have undergone scientific study and shown promise in supporting specific health conditions. We break down the research, so you can work with your medical providers to make informed decisions about adding supplements to your health regimen. For personalized advice tailored to your needs, we recommend consulting with a registered dietitian in addition to your primary care provider.

Check with your physician when adding supplements. While supplements are generally safe for most people, do not add nutritional supplements without your physician’s specific approval if you are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a history of organ transplant, liver or kidney disease, or take medications that interact with supplements.

  • Chasteberry (Vitex): Used traditionally to help balance hormones and alleviate symptoms like breast tenderness and mood swings. Researchers found that women who took chasteberry extracts showed reduced total menopausal symptoms, anxiety, and hot flashes. [PMC6887765]
  • Red Clover: Contains compounds that mimic estrogen, possibly reducing menopausal symptoms. [PMID: 25581426]
  • Melatonin: A review study showed that melatonin helps with physical symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes. [PMID: 33784263] This may help improve sleep, which can be disrupted during menopause.
  • Ginseng: Some studies suggest it may help with mood swings and overall well-being during menopause. A review looked at studies on ginseng for menopausal women’s health. It found that ginseng can help reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and improve quality of life. However, it didn’t seem to have a direct effect on sexual function or hormone levels. PMID: 35691259
  • Rhodiola Rosea: Rhodiola may work similarly to estrogen in the body. It may help reduce stress and fatigue associated with menopause and is proposed as a treatment for menopausal symptoms like fatigue, stress, depression, and cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. [PMID: 26776957]
  • Sage: Sage is believed to have estrogenic effects and may help reduce hot flashes and night sweats. A study investigated the effectiveness of sage extract in reducing menopausal symptoms among postmenopausal women. Results showed significant reductions in the severity of symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, panic, fatigue, and concentration issues after four weeks of sage extract consumption. [PMC6686654]
  • Supplements to Use With Caution:
    • St. John’s Wort: Some women use it to help manage mood swings and depression during menopause, although it can interact with certain medications. In a study conducted with 100 women experiencing hot flashes, researchers compared the effectiveness of St John’s wort with a placebo over 8 weeks. They found that both groups showed improvements, but women taking St John’s wort had fewer and less severe hot flashes compared to those on placebo. This suggests that St John’s wort could be a helpful treatment for hot flashes in menopausal women. [PMID: 20216274]
    • Licorice Root: Thought to have estrogenic effects and may help alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, but should be used cautiously due to its potential to raise blood pressure. [PMID: 23663094]
    • DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone): Some women may benefit from supplementation to help balance hormone levels, but it should be used with caution and under medical supervision. Some studies suggest that DHEA supplements could help with symptoms like hot flashes and protect bones and muscles in menopausal women. [PMC8781653]

Supplements with Mixed Research:

  • Black Cohosh: Although the research is mixed, some studies suggest it may help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats. A study compared black cohosh and evening primrose oil for treating hot flashes in menopausal women. Both herbs reduced the severity of hot flashes and improved quality of life, but black cohosh was more effective in reducing the number of hot flashes as well. [PMC5868221]
  • Evening Primrose Oil: This supplement is sometimes used for hot flashes and night sweats, but studies have generally found it to be no more effective than a placebo in alleviating these symptoms. However, a study investigated how evening primrose oil (rich in omega-6 fatty acids) affects platelet activity in postmenopausal women. The evening primrose oil supplements reduced platelet aggregation and secretion, suggesting a potential long-term benefit in reducing the risk of blood clots in these women. [PMC9579391]
  • Soy Isoflavones: Although the research is mixed, soy isoflavones may provide relief from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. A study looked at how soy isoflavone supplements affect menopausal symptoms, blood pressure, and body weight in women going through menopause. They found that taking soy isoflavone supplements improved menopausal symptoms in both perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, especially in perimenopausal women. However, it didn’t have any effect on lowering blood pressure or body weight. [PMC9583364]

Supplements That Might Not Work:

  • Dong Quai – Although this supplement is often promoted for menopause relief, it has not shown consistent results in clinical trials for reducing hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms.
  • Wild Yam – Despite claims that it can help with menopausal symptoms, there is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of wild yam for this purpose.

Important for Bone Health, Heart Health and More:

  • Multivitamin: A good quality Multivitamin will have the following:
    • Vitamin D: Supports calcium absorption and bone health. Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining bone health and has wider health implications, particularly for menopausal women who are at risk of bone density loss, fractures, cardiovascular issues, and emotional symptoms. Recent research suggests that Vitamin D also affects muscle strength, heart health, vaginal health, cancer risk, and mood during menopause. [PMC10291614]
    • Vitamin E: Some evidence suggests it may help alleviate hot flashes. [PMC9824658]
    • B Vitamins: Support overall health and may help with mood swings and energy levels. Studies suggest that taking B vitamins can help lower the risk of stroke and improve cognitive function. [PMC6372850]
  • Calcium: Helps maintain bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The study reviewed medical data and found that adequate calcium intake, along with vitamin D, helps prevent bone loss and fractures in menopausal women. Calcium also has potential benefits for other health issues, so it’s important for women during this stage to ensure they get enough calcium, aiming for at least 1,200 mg per day. [PMID: 11256879]
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Have anti-inflammatory properties and support heart health. Postmenopausal women have a higher risk of heart problems due to increased platelet activity. [PMC9579391] Fish oil supplements reduced platelet activity, suggesting it could reduce the risk of blood clots and heart issues.

Order Supplements For Managing Menopause

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Supplement Safety Information

These nutritional supplements commonly used for menopause, such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, black cohosh, soy isoflavones, red clover, vitamin E, B vitamins, melatonin, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), evening primrose oil, ginseng, rhodiola rosea, chasteberry (vitex), St. John’s wort, sage, and licorice root largely are safe for most individual. However, it still depends on individual health status and dosage. Additionally, monitoring for any potential side effects or interactions is recommended to maintain overall health and well-being.

Medication Interactions:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Hormone replacement therapy medications may interact with certain supplements, such as black cohosh or soy isoflavones, which may alter their effects or increase the risk of side effects. It’s essential to monitor for changes in hormone levels or treatment response when taking HRT alongside these supplements.
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs, commonly used to treat mood disorders like depression or anxiety during menopause, may interact with certain supplements, such as St. John’s Wort or soy isoflavones, might alter their effectiveness or increase the risk of side effects. Monitoring for changes in mood or treatment response is recommended when taking SSRIs alongside these supplements.
  • Bisphosphonates: Bisphosphonates, medications used to prevent or treat osteoporosis during menopause, may interact with certain supplements, such as calcium or vitamin D, possibly reducing their absorption or effectiveness. It’s advisable to take bisphosphonates at a different time than these supplements to avoid interference with absorption.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressant medications, often prescribed to manage mood swings or depression during menopause, may interact with certain supplements, such as St. John’s Wort or ginseng, which could alter their effects or increase the risk of side effects. Monitoring for changes in mood or treatment response is recommended when taking antidepressants alongside these supplements.
  • Blood Thinners (Anticoagulants): Blood thinner medications, used to prevent blood clots during menopause, may interact with certain supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids or ginseng, possibly increasing the risk of bleeding. Monitoring for signs of bleeding and consulting with a healthcare professional before starting these supplements is advisable if taking blood thinners.
  • Thyroid Medications: Thyroid medications, prescribed to manage thyroid disorders that may occur during menopause, may interact with certain supplements, such as calcium or soy isoflavones, which could reduce their absorption or effectiveness. It’s essential to monitor thyroid hormone levels and adjust medication dosage accordingly when taking these supplements alongside thyroid medications.

Supplement Interactions:

  • Black Cohosh: Black cohosh supplements may interact with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications, possibly altering their effects or increasing the risk of side effects. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is advisable when taking black cohosh supplements alongside HRT.
  • Soy Isoflavones: Soy isoflavone supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, and might affect their effectiveness. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is recommended when taking soy isoflavone supplements alongside hormonal medications.
  • Red Clover: Red clover supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, possibly altering their effects. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is advisable when taking red clover supplements alongside hormonal medications.
  • Evening Primrose Oil: Evening primrose oil supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, and may affect their effectiveness. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is recommended when taking evening primrose oil supplements alongside hormonal medications.
  • Chasteberry (Vitex): Chasteberry supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, may affect their effectiveness. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is recommended when taking chasteberry supplements alongside hormonal medications.
  • St. John’s Wort: St. John’s Wort supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, might alter their effects. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is advisable when taking St. John’s Wort supplements alongside hormonal medications.
  • Sage: Sage supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, could affect their effectiveness. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is recommended when taking sage supplements alongside hormonal medications.
  • Licorice Root: Licorice root supplements may interact with hormonal medications, such as HRT or birth control pills, may alter their effects. Monitoring hormone levels and treatment response is advisable when taking licorice root supplements alongside hormonal medications.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

What Lab Tests Might Be Helpful In Managing Menopause?

Several lab tests can be helpful in managing menopause. These include:

  • Hormone Levels: Testing hormone levels, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol, and progesterone, can provide valuable information about a woman’s menopausal status and help guide treatment decisions.
  • Thyroid Function Tests: Thyroid function tests, including thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4), and possibly triiodothyronine (T3), can help assess thyroid function, as thyroid disorders are common during menopause and can mimic symptoms of menopause.
  • Bone Density Testing: Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans can measure bone mineral density and assess bone health, helping to identify osteoporosis or osteopenia, which are common concerns during and after menopause.
  • Lipid Profile: A lipid profile, including measurements of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, can assess cardiovascular risk, which increases after menopause due to hormonal changes.
  • Blood Glucose Levels: Testing fasting blood glucose levels or hemoglobin A1c can help evaluate diabetes risk, as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes become more common during and after menopause.
  • Pelvic Ultrasound: Pelvic ultrasound may be recommended to evaluate the thickness of the endometrial lining or to assess the ovaries for cysts or other abnormalities.
  • Mammography: Regular mammograms are recommended for breast cancer screening, as the risk of breast cancer increases with age and is a significant concern for women during and after menopause.

To Sum It Up

Exploring the diverse health benefits of supplements for menopause underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach to well-being. Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and other vital nutrients play pivotal roles in supporting bone health, hormonal balance, and overall wellness during this transition. Botanical supplements like Black Cohosh, Soy Isoflavones, and Red Clover offer natural avenues for managing menopausal symptoms. Additionally, supplements such as Melatonin, Ginseng, and Rhodiola Rosea may provide support for mood, sleep, and energy levels. However, it’s crucial to approach supplementation with caution, considering individual health needs and potential interactions with medications. By combining these supplements with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and other lifestyle factors, women can navigate menopause with greater ease and vitality.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

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