If you’re a middle-aged woman, going through menopause, you may have experienced the “dreaded” hot flash. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth, usually felt in the face, neck and chest. These areas may turn red and you may sweat profusely which may result in a chill. Hot flashes can be caused by a number of hormonal problems but are most commonly associated with menopause. The severity of hot flashes ranges from person to person. Some people may have difficulty with their daily activities and their sleep may even been disturbed. Many women are looking for anti-aging tips to help get through the hormonal changes that occur with menopause. Over the years, the use of soy for hot flashes has been inconclusive. However, a recent review of the research that was published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society, shows that taking soy supplements may help to decrease hot flashes over time.
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a naturally occurring phase in a woman’s life and usually occurs between the ages of 45-55. During menopause, the ovaries stop making eggs and they produce less estrogen and progesterone. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels cause the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes. In addition to hot flashes, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause sexual, vaginal, psychological, skeletal, and vascular problems.
Decreases in estrogen and progesterone eventually result in the woman no longer having her period each month. After a year of no periods, menopause is considered over and a woman can no longer get pregnant.
Treatment for Menopause
There are many treatments that are available for women suffering from severe symptoms of menopause. Due to the estrogen and progesterone changes, a common medical treatment is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is sometimes call estrogen replacement therapy. HRT comes with an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. It is therefore recommended that women take the lowest dose possible for the shortness duration possible. Other treatment options include: anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and anti-seizure medications. Diet and lifestyle changes are also recommended to help deal with the symptoms of menopause.
Soy comes from soy beans. Soy can be found in a soy powder, milk or in supplement form. The active ingredients in soy are isoflavones. The isoflavones are changed to phytoestrogens in the body and act like estrogen. Many women have heard of anti-aging tips that include using soy for the prevention of breast cancer, menopausal symptoms and premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Following anti-aging tips, including supplementing your diet with soy, may help to reduce the symptoms of estrogen and progesterone issues among many other health benefits.
What is the Connection between Soy and Menopause?
The researchers looked at 19 studies that were previously conducted and pooled the data. Only studies that used soy supplements were included because the dosage of soy could be controlled. The analysis of the combined data showed that individuals that took an average of 54 milligrams of supplemental soy isoflavones a day for six weeks to 12 months had a 21% decrease in the frequency and a 26% decrease in the severity of their hot flashes. The authors concluded that the use of soy supplements does, in fact, have a significant impact on the reduction of hot flashes. Some women may prefer to get soy from food products as opposed to a supplement form.
Many women are concerned about using HRT; for these women, supplementing with soy for 6-12 weeks may be a better treatment option. Furthermore, even for individuals who are not weary of using HRT, soy supplementation may be the best conservative treatment for hot flashes experienced during menopause.
Further research should look at other ways in which soy may help with the aging process so that additional anti-aging tips can be developed to help people cope with the natural changes that occur as we age.
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(Disclaimer: Always consult with a healthcare practitioner prior to supplementation of soy isoflavones. They may increase the risk of breast cancer and other conditions. Soy isoflavones may also interfere with medication such as blood thinners)