Soy May Support A Healthier Perimenopause & Menopause Transition
By Dr. Aaron Tabor, MD
Medical Research Director at Revival Soy
- Menopause is a natural stage of life all women experience as they age. And while it may be normal, it certainly doesn't feel normal. The hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and fatigue can make menopause one of the most physically and emotionally miserable times in a woman's life. So, let's review what causes menopause, what you can expect, and how soy may help.
What Causes Menopause?
Menopause occurs when declining levels of estrogen cause changes in your periods. During menopause, ovulation (egg production) stops, causing periods to become less frequent, and eventually stopping altogether. For many women, this process begins silently somewhere around age 40. Declining estrogen levels during menopause may lead to poor vaginal and uterine health. Estrogen also helps women maintain strong bones and good cholesterol levels.
What Can I Expect?
Perimenopause - gradually declining hormone levels
(mid-to-late 30's to mid 40's)
The transition to menopause is a time period known as perimenopause, a process that begins 8-10 years before menopause and marks the beginning of declining hormone production by the ovaries. In the final one to two years of perimenopause, the decrease in estrogen accelerates and many women begin to experience menopausal symptoms such as irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.
Menopause - cessation of menstrual periods
(late 40's to mid 50's)
At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and producing most of their estrogen. It's during this time women can expect to experience the bulk of menopausal symptoms. Once a woman has gone 1 full year without a menstrual period, she has made it through menopause and at this point is considered postmenopausal.
Postmenopause - increased health risks
(late 50's and beyond)
These are the years following menopause. During this stage, menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, ease for most women. However, at this time many women begin to experience the health risks associated with the loss of estrogen during menopause such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Speak To Your Doctor About “HRT“
Speak to your own physician to determine if Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is right for you. HRT (estrogen combined with progestin) was the standard therapy for menopause until recently when the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that HRT has a host of potential side effects, including an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, endometrial (uterine) cancer, stroke, blood clots and gallbladder disease. For these reasons, about 60-85% of women eligible for HRT refuse to start or continue HRT. Interestingly, the NIH has found that estrogen alone does not increase breast cancer risk (only when used in combination with progestin). As expected, more women are seeking natural dietary options such as soy to support a healthier midlife transition.
While soy is not a replacement for prescription medication, fourteen clinical trials show that soy can help you manage midlife by reducing hot flashes and other common symptoms of menopause.(1-7) Soy consumption has been shown to significantly improve a woman's comfort and health during perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. A recent medical review in American Family Physician (the journal of the prestigious American Association of Family Physicians) states that, "Soy has been found to significantly reduce the incidence of hot flashes associated with menopause." (6)
Scientists became very interested in soy's potential role for menopause support after demographic studies revealed that only 9% of women living in Asia, where the diet is rich in soy, experienced hot flashes during midlife, in contrast to almost 80–90% of Western women who suffer through menopause.
Many scientists feel that soy isoflavones, which are similar to the body's estrogen in structure, may support health by lightly binding to estrogen receptors, thus, producing some of the benefits of estrogen without negative side effects.
Because soy may support menopause, energy, bone and heart health, many doctors and dietitians now recommend soy as a safe, effective dietary supplement to help women support a healthy midlife transition and beyond. Daily soy consumption for several months is likely required to start seeing menopausal benefits. Women should ask their doctors or healthcare providers for help in integrating soy protein with isoflavones into their overall health plan strategies.
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up to 160 milligrams of soy isoflavones per day for all of the
health benefits of soy.
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1. Effects of Soy Isoflavones on Premenstrual Syndrome. N. Ishiwata1, et al. 5th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, Sept. 21-24th, 2003. Orlando, FL.
2. Role of Phytoestrogens on Menstrual Cycle Symptoms. M. Bryant, et al. 5th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, Sept. 21-24th, 2003. Orlando, FL.
3. Lu LJ, et al. Decreased ovarian hormones during a soya diet: implications for breast cancer prevention. Cancer Res 2000 Aug 1;60(15):4112-21.
4. Cancer. 2002 Feb 15;94(4):1166-74. The specific role of isoflavones on estrogen metabolism in premenopausal women. Kumar NB,et al.
5. Nutr Cancer. 1997;29(3):228-33. Decreased serum estradiol concentration associated with high dietary intake of soy products in premenopausal Japanese women. Nagata C, et al.
6. Xu X, Duncan AM, Merz BE, Kurzer MS, Effects of soy isoflavones on estrogen and phytoestrogen metabolism in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prev 1998 Dec;7(12):1101-8.
7. Cancer Res 2000 Mar 1;60(5):1299-305. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Sep;60(3):333-40. Biological effects of a diet of soy protein rich in isoflavones on the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. Cassidy A, Bingham S, Setchell KD.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Revival is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: All information is intended for your general knowledge
only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific
medical conditions. We can not and do not give you medical advice.
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