Since stress can play a major role in the severity of menopause symptoms, use comprehensive stress management techniques, such as the ones created by the Institute of Heart Math, suggests Dr. Warner. You can also take adaptogenic herbs that provide adrenal gland support. “There are a lot of different herbs in this category, so you should go to a health food store and talk with the staff or discuss it with a practitioner who knows about herbs,” advises Dr. Warner. You can also try black cohosh and Siberian rhubarb extract, both of which have been shown to help control hot flashes. As for your diet, steer clear of sugar and starch and give up gluten, if possible. “Gluten-containing grains like wheat change the liver enzymes that metabolize estrogen, so it makes the imbalance worse,” explains Dr. Warner. Resist the temptation to give in to your junk food cravings and fill up on veggies instead. “They’ve got all these lignans and flavonoids in them that help stabilize hormones.”
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Eat veggies (and chocolate!) to boost your libido.
If sex just doesn’t hold the same spark for you lately, hormone imbalances may be at least partially to blame. When levels of the adrenal hormone DHEA begin to drop in your body, which can happen when you’re subjected to prolonged periods of stress, testosterone production will eventually taper off as well. “DHEA is the precursor for testosterone, so if you have low DHEA, you are probably going to have low testosterone—and then there goes your libido,” says Dr. Warner.
How to boost your libido:
Integrate effective stress management techniques into your daily life and adopt a diet high in veggies. “Every single step along the way of making hormones, and also getting rid of hormones, requires nutrient co-factors that come from vegetables,” explains Dr. Warner. Though you should keep sugar to a minimum, indulging in chocolate occasionally may actually boost your libido. It contains the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine which has been linked to feelings of pleasure. “I always tell people a little bit of chocolate is good, but if you use too much, you probably just as soon eat the chocolate than bother with your boyfriend!” says Dr. Warner. There are a couple of herbal supplements that may also rev up your sex drive, including maca and horny goat weed (yes, it’s really called that!), but there’s no simple solution to this oftentimes complex issue.
Control your cortisol and catch more ZZZs.
If you spend your nights sleeplessly counting sheep, then cortisol is mostly likely your hormone that’s out of whack. “You’ve really got to fix the cortisol or you’re not going to get to the root of the problem,” says Dr. Warner. “If you try to go to bed at night and you lay there for an hour staring at the ceiling not being able to turn off your brain, well that’s because your cortisol is too high and hasn’t dropped enough.”
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How to sleep better: