- Women's Health
Hot Flashes, Vaginal Dryness, Night Sweats – I Got Rid of Them by Eating Estrogen-Rich Foods
In 2003, I had all these symptoms -- hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and more -- after I had total hysterectomy, a surgical process done to remove my uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix which were already full of cysts, causing me severe pain and discomfort.
The pathology report showed I had adenomyosis, cervicitis and endometrial and nabothian cysts, confirming the gynecologist's diagnosis of pelvic endometriosis and adenomyoma.
To stop the symptoms after surgery, I took the prescribed HRT pills. These contained estrogen to replace the hormones that my body needed, but was not being adequately supplied because my chief hormone-producing ovaries were already removed.
For about four years, I took the expensive pills, but when many I know were starting to have breast cancer, I was alarmed because I was warned about the higher risk of breast cancer for women using HRT pills. I started reading about HRT and how to stop surgical menopause symptoms without using HRT pills.
I learned that I can get the needed estrogen by eating foods that contain a lot of estrogen. This worked for me. Since 2007, I have not been taking HRT pills and have not experienced the dreaded menopausal symptoms.
I warn you though that what worked for me may not work for you. I'm not telling anyone to stop taking their HRT pills. I'm just sharing my experience for those considering shifting to natural HRT.
Why Did I Have to Take HRT after Total Hysterectomy?
HRT is prescribed after total hysterectomy to replace hormones needed by a woman’s body but are no longer adequately supplied because the main hormone producers – the ovaries – have been removed.
With these hormones gone, uncomfortable symptoms occur, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, tiredness, insomnia, depression and frequent headaches.
Immediately, when I got home from the hospital in 2003 after undergoing total hysterectomy and I haven’t yet taken HRT pills, I experienced most of the symptoms described in medical books. Also, whenever I forgot taking my pills, or failed to buy another set, the symptoms returned.
Hot flashes disturbed my sleep. When they came, a wave of heat would suddenly envelope my body from head to foot and would make me want to get out of my body and jump into a pool because of the heat. After the heat leaves me after a while, I’d be drenched in sweat and needed to change.
The headaches were among the hardest to bear. They would attack any time, and even sleep could not stop them.
I also became touchy, and mistakes by my husband and children that I didn’t mind before would easily make me go ballistic.
Vaginal dryness was also a real symptom, and I became frustrated.
What Are the Natural HRT Foods I'm Eating?
From my research, I found that I can get a lot of estrogen from foods readily available and inexpensively in the Philippines. To get adequate amounts of estrogen per day, I eat a lot of estrogen-rich foods that I naturally like and ignore those that I don't.
My favorite is tofu, a soft soya product, which is usually packaged in water-filled packs. It's called tokwa here. Tokwa tastes bland, but if it is mixed with some meat or dipped in various sauces, it tastes great. Tokwa is also rich in calcium, needed in preventing osteoporosis, which is also a risk for women who have had total hysterectomy.
I also have two to three cups of taho nearly everyday. This is again a soft soya product which is enriched with flavors. Buying this is not a problem since my favorite taho vendor comes to my door everyday, bringing me also my fresh tokwa.
Another estrogen-rich food from the beans kingdom is togue or mung bean sprouts. Togue results from soaking mongo beans for a few days to make them sprout. When cooked with carrots, tokwa and seasonings, togue becomes among the cheapest but tastiest and healthiest dishes this side of the world.
There are other inexpensive estrogen-rich foods that I naturally like and I eat lots of them: seaweeds, tomatoes, squash, carrots, oats, brown rice and cucumbers.
From my research, there are other foods or plants rich in estrogen, but I didn't try them because either they are expensive, or they're not readily available in the Philippines: black cohosh, barley and flax seed.
Cauliflower and broccoli are also rich in estrogen, according to write-ups, but I don't particularly like their taste.
One significant thing that helps me is the fact that I grew up in a farming family in the North that planted and consumed various beans, so I developed a taste for almost all kinds of beans.
Back then, I thought we were deprived because all we ate were beans and more vegetables, but now I realize that what we were eating were among the healthiest foods in the world.
Our diet, I think, is very similar to the macrobiotic diet, which became a craze at one time in North America and Japan and is still followed by health-conscious celebrities.
Since beans are rich in estrogen and other nutrients and since I like them naturally, I eat lots of them. I just throw in some meat and seasonings and they become perfect for me.