Please note this is general advice only and not intended for personal medical advice. Always consult your doctor or medical professional to seek personal advice for your own needs.
Menopause differs from one woman to another. Similarly, solutions vary for every woman, ranging from medication therapy to incontinence panties to sleep remedies.
Whereas some women experience just a few symptoms, others are hit by a myriad of them. And, bodily changes that take place can be both isolating and frustrating, explaining the need for self-care.
Women experience absence of their menstrual periods for about a year without any obvious reason. American women, according to the North American Menopause Society, experience menopause between the ages of 40 and 58.
However, menopause delays in some women and can begin later at the age of 45 onwards. During this period, expect various emotional and physical symptoms, including less frequent and unpredictable periods.
Other symptoms of menopause include:
- Poor sleep/sleep disturbances
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal changes such as dryness and loss of tissue elasticity
- Mood changes
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain
- Decreasing bone density
Estrogen levels drop in women as they age, triggering menopause. This also increases the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
With no lab test to predict the onset and intensity of menopause, you need to learn and understand how to transition smoothly through it in one piece. Here’re tips to help you enjoy this period of no more PMS, periods or pregnancy worries:
7 Tips to Help You Reduce the Symptoms of Menopause
Exercise, diet and lifestyle changes can help you reduce complications and symptoms associated with menopause. Adopt the following lifestyle changes to help you manage menopause:
- Limit caffeine intake – aggravates osteoporosis and hot flashes.
- Refrain from smoking – increases the risk of stroke, heart attacks, hip fractures, and osteoporosis. Research shows that 50% of women who smoke experience troublesome hot flashes than 33% of women who’ve never smoked.
- Avoid binge drinking to transition well through menopause. Alcohol inhibits bone development and heightens hot flashes.
- Wear clothing in layers to cool off your body and warm it up during a hot flush and after a flush, respectively. Use light bed blankets at night.
- Exercise to relieve hot flashes, reduce blood pressure, fractures, osteoporosis and the risk of stroke and heart attack. Take walks, dance, do low-impact aerobics, play a racquet sport such as paddle ball or tennis, or lift weights to maintain your bone mass.
- Use vaginal moisturizers, lubricants or OTC hormonal creams, tablets or rings to treat vaginal dryness and increase sexual desire.
- Stay out in the sun and take vitamin D supplements (1,000 IU daily) to improve absorption of calcium from foods.
- Consume dairy products, dark green vegetables, legumes and salmon or sardines for your recommended daily 800 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium.
- Eat 5 to 6 smaller meals (250 to 300 calories) daily to counteract weight gain.
Your doctor will prescribe medication based on the most bothersome symptoms of menopause. Estrogen is used to treat women who’ve had their uterus removed and a combination of progesterone and estrogen for women with their uterus.
Estrogen pill or skin patch reduces sleep disturbances, hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood changes. Progesterone balances the effect of estrogen on the uterus, reducing the risk of uterine cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy reduces the risk of colon cancer and prevents fractures.
However, studies have linked prolonged use of medication such as estrogen therapy to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and breast cancer in some women.
Treat hot flashes with the following medication:
- Neurontin (Gabapentin) decreases hot flashes and improves sleep if taken at night.
- Antidepressants such as paroxetine (Paxil) and venlafaxine (Effexor) for first-line hot flash treatment in up to 60% of women.
- Clonidine, medication for blood pressure, relieves hot flashes.
Incontinence and sleep remedies
While your monthly cycle might be coming to an end, a whole new challenge down there may take its place in the form of urinary incontinence.
Loss of vaginal tissue elasticity results in weakening of your pelvic floor muscles as you age. This leads to an increased chance of developing incontinence, that is, light leaks and drips. Opt for incontinence panties to help you manage the leaks.
Incontinence briefs are eco-friendly, washable and reusable, sleek and smooth beneath clothes, and elegant. The underwear are also comfortable and discreet, cost-effective, and great for exercise and physical activities.
Take a warm bath, drink warm milk and focus less on a day’s events to get better sleep.
Share Your Experiences with Family and Friends
Aging, kids finishing college and returning back home, health problems linked to old-age, and husbands undergoing their second childhoods can worsen the stress of menopause. Share your experiences with friends and family to help you overcome the emotional and physical burdens.
You can also join a menopause support group or volunteer at a charitable organization to share life’s stresses and make new friends. Learn from other women on menopause or those who’ve been through it.
Take deep breathes
Studies show that taking steady, slow and deep breathes halves hot flashes. Breathe deeply for at least 15 minutes to help you relax and calm your nerves, atop reducing hot flushes.
Read a book on menopause to better understand the transition
Proper understanding of menopause, including the emotional and physical changes that occur can ease the transition.
Getting your spouse a book on the changes you’re experiencing can help them understand your situation. The information can help your spouse give you the encouragement and patience you need as you transition through menopause. It’s also a great way to improve your quality of life.
Studies reveal that black cohosh treats mild to moderate hot flashes. Remifemin, a black cohosh extract, works against menopausal symptoms as good as strong replacement therapy.
Although researchers are yet to determine how this herb works, it’s been found to control estrogen effects. Doctors recommend short-term use of the herb (about 6 months) to prevent its adverse effects.
However, women seem to tolerate it well and report serious effects post 6-months of use. The transition from HRT to black cohosh use and vice versa must be done under the watch of a healthcare provider. This prevents symptoms from increasing.
Other herbal remedies include:
- Milk thistle or silymarin can reduce signs of a failed liver and protect it from harmful substances. The herb regenerates and repairs damaged liver cells and fights headaches, tenderness or bloating issues associated with excess hormone levels.
- St. John’s Wort fights mild to moderate depression and mood disorders. Studies show that the herb rich in hypericin is less likely than antidepressants to cause side effects such as loss of sexual desire, fatigue, or dry mouth.
- Soya products (contains plant estrogen known as phytoestrogen) such as tofu reduce symptoms of menopause and relieve hot flashes, but increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Get isoflavones from ½ a cup of tofu or a glass of soymilk daily.
- Kava, according to an article published in the American Family Physician journal, is recommended for short-term treatment of mild to moderate anxiety. Although it has sedating effect, kava, unlike antianxiety drugs, doesn’t affect alertness and isn’t addictive.
Menopause is a tough time for most women due to a drop in estrogen levels. With symptoms ranging from hot flashes to vaginal dryness, various tips can help you transition easily through this phase of aging. Choose from incontinence panties to herbal remedies to help you age gracefully.
Bio: Anna Williams is a passionate advocator for senior health and raising awareness for issues like incontinence in the young and old. She’s worked in aged health care for many years but now spends her time volunteering and freelance writing for Zorbies.