Menopause might be a natural stage in the life of a woman, but that doesn't mean it's easy to go through. In fact, for the vast majority of women, it isn't.
Statistics show that as many as 75% of women experience menopausal symptoms, and around 25% percent have symptoms that are severe. These symptoms can range from those that are merely unpleasant, like hot flashes and night sweats, to those that can significantly impact their quality of life - like insomnia and vaginal dryness, and even those that can pose a serious health threat, like elevated blood pressure or impaired thyroid function.
When it comes to treatment, the most common avenues are hormone therapy and various supplements. However, red light therapy has emerged as an extremely effective treatment for hormone health. Apart from its efficacy, its main advantage is the absence of negative side effects.
What Changes Happen in Menopausal Women?
The main change that happens during menopause is the complete cessation of the menstrual cycle. However, that is not the only thing that happens during this time.
Menopause doesn't happen overnight. It's a gradual process during which concentrations of estrogen and other sex hormones in the body decrease, sometimes over the course of a decade. During this time, the ovaries's sensitivity to the hormones FSH and LH decreases. This leads to diminished fertility, and lower progesterone production. You are considered to be out of this transitory period (perimenopause) and in menopause when you haven't had a period in an entire year.
Other changes in the body result from these hormonal changes. The superficial cells of vaginal tissue are lost, which changes the PH value of the vagina and leads to vaginal thinning. This, coupled with the overall changes of sex hormone levels can impact your libido, as well as your vaginal health.
Levels of cholesterol rise, leading to increased chances of cardiovascular disease.
Women in menopause lose bone density. This makes them prone to osteoporosis, increasing the risk that an injury might result in a broken bone. And bone loss has another, more surprising consequence too. As you lose bone in the face, the skin and tissues of the face lose the scaffolding which holds them. This leads to wrinkles and saggy skin. Increasing collagen production is one way to fight it, but it's also important to take care of your bone health.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy has come a long way since it was invented by NASA some thirty years ago. In the meantime, it became available to the general public - at first only at doctors' offices, but now also in the form of handy home-use devices.
During the course of a day, the wavelengths of sunlight change. The sun emits red and near infrared light (NIR) at dawn and sunset, while during the day it mostly emits blue light and ultraviolet light.
Red light therapy devices use light emitting diodes to emit red and NIR light. The frequencies of the visible red light and the invisible near infrared light are carefully chosen to mimic the most beneficial wavelengths from natural sunlight.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
The different frequencies of light from red and NIR light therapy penetrate the body at different depths - some work only skin deep, while others reach deeper tissues, bones and even internal organs.
But how exactly does red light work? The answer is quite complex, as there are several different mechanisms which all have a beneficial influence on the body and mind.
On the level of cells, it supports mitochondria and cells and helps them proliferate while at the same time clearing them from free radicals. All of this helps increase energy production in the mitochondria and raises cellular energy levels which translates into higher energy levels in general. At the same time, it boosts oxygenation which also contributes to overall cellular health.
Skin deep, red light has several important mechanisms of action. It boosts collagen and elastin production in skin cells, which is one of the main prerequisites for youthful and healthy skin.
It also stimulates the release of a compound called nitric oxide into the blood stream. This chemical acts as a vasodilator - it relaxes and dilates the blood vessels and supports cardiovascular and kidney health.
Finally, red light therapy also triggers the release of beta-endorphins, hormones which have analgesic and mood lifting properties.
On a tissue level, red light therapy stimulates blood flow, and reduces inflammation. It also stimulates the immune system, helps drain tissue and boosts cell regeneration. All of this makes it the treatment of choice for wound healing, joint pain and treatment of various injuries.
Is Red Light Therapy Good for Menopause Symptoms?
Red light therapy, due to its multiple mechanisms of work, is an effective form of treatment for multiple menopause symptoms.
This syndrome consists of several symptoms and conditions that might affect women in perimenopause and menopause. The most common complaints include loss of natural lubrication, a decrease in libido and sexual function, and urinary symptoms such as frequent UTIs, itching, or a burning sensation.
This syndrome occurs due to the decrease in estrogen levels, vaginal tissue changes and poor blood flow. When it regulates hormones and improves circulation, red light therapy alleviates these symptoms as well. The improved immune function also helps fight off vaginal and urinary infections.
One of the most popular uses of red light therapy is for skin rejuvenation, which is certainly a concern during menopause. However, increased collagen production is not the only skin benefit of low level laser therapy.
Due to its anti inflammatory and immune boosting properties, red light therapy can be used to treat many other skin conditions, such as psoriasis, acne, dryness, wrinkles and scars.
Blood Pressure Regulation
Red and NIR light therapy regulates blood pressure by increasing the levels of nitric oxide in the blood. When nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, elevated blood pressure drops to normal levels.
Red light therapy is a reliable, non-chemical treatment for hair thinning and hair loss that sometimes occurs during menopause. Red light therapy has been shown to stimulate new hair growth.
Red Light Therapy And Thyroid Function
The relationship between the thyroid gland and menopause is complex. Impaired thyroid function can have symptoms that mimic menopause - for instance palpitations, hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain.
However, for patients who already suffer fro chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, their condition might worsen when they enter menopause. The symptoms of thyroid imbalance and menopause then compound each other and become more severe.
Red light therapy can help regulate thyroid hormones, and it might be an alternative to upping you thyroid medication dose in menopause.
Can Low Level Laser Therapy Help With Insomnia?
Insomnia and a drop in sleep quality are one of the most common problems women face in menopause. According to the Sleep Foundation, 39 to 47 percent of perimenopausal women and a whopping 35 to 60 percent of postmenopausal women experience trouble falling or staying asleep, which can also negatively impact their physical health and cognitive function.
The red and NIR light used in red light therapy is the same as the type of sunlight that naturally regulates your sleep. As blue light in nature wanes at sunset, it is gradually replaced by red and NIR light which stimulates the production of melatonin and signals to the brain to start winding down and brings on feelings of sleepiness.
Red light therapy mimics this signal and regulates melatonin levels, fights insomnia and balances out the sleep and wake cycle without any of the negative side effects of melatonin supplements or sleeping pills.
Can Red And Near Infrared Light Therapy Help With Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are the most common menopause symptom which affects around 75 percent of women. The mechanism behind hot flashes is not entirely clear, but scientists believe they are caused by changes in the thermoregulation center in the brain. This center, located in the hypothalamus, becomes more sensitive to temperature changes and is triggered more easily than normally. When it is triggered, the blood vessels dilate and you start to sweat, leading to hot flashes or night sweats.
All of the hormonal processes in the body are regulated through circadian rhythms. By regulating your melatonin levels and optimizing your circadian cycle, red light therapy optimizes your overall hormone health. This minimizes the occurrence of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
Is There Any Downside to Red Light Therapy?
Unlike many other treatments and supplements, red light therapy has no side effects and is completely safe to use to alleviate menopause symptoms. The red and NIR light that are used in red light therapy don't produce any significant heat.
Low level laser therapy doesn't cause skin or tissue damage and doesn't emit UV light, so there is no increase in chances of skin cancer. For optimal health benefits, red and near infrared can be used every day with no risk of adverse side effects.
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