Article provided by Cleveland Clinic’s Speaking of Women’s Health
Just as the beginning of menstruation is a transition for young girls, the end of menstruation is a normal transition in a woman’s life.
Contrary to what many believe, menopause is not a disease or an illness to be dealt with. It is, for many, a challenge.
For some women, the symptoms experienced prior to and during menopausal years can diminish their vitality and well-being. What’s happening is that during menopause, a woman’s body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between the ages of 45 and 55 years old. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row, and there are no other causes for this change.
For some women, menopause comes and goes with little or no problems. For others, the symptoms can be a challenge.
Here are some ways to relieve those symptoms.
- Hot Flashes – A hot environment, eating or drinking hot or spicy foods, alcohol, or caffeine, and stress can bring on hot flashes. Try to avoid these triggers. Dress in layers and keep a fan in your home or workplace. Regular exercise might also bring relief from hot flashes and other symptoms. Some women find that topical progesterone creams provide relief from hot flashes, while others believe that antidepressant medications work well. Talk to your pharmacist or health care practitioner to make the right choice for you.
- Vaginal Dryness – Consider an over-the-counter vaginal lubricant or a prescription estrogen replacement cream.
- Problems Sleeping – One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. But avoid a lot of exercise close to bedtime. Also reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine, and avoid eating large meals and working right before bedtime. Establish a routine of waking and going to bed at the same time each night.
- Mood swings – Try to get enough sleep and be physically active. Consider relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation to help keep you calm. This is a good time to think about the person you want to be and focus on not allowing yourself to be emotionally-hijacked by your hormonal imbalances. Accept responsibility for your actions and words.
Try these steps to stay healthy during this time in your life:
- Be active. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Try weight-bearing exercises, like walking, running, dancing or lifting free weights.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Eat healthy foods. Eat a variety of fruits and dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach. Include calcium-rich foods and whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta. Choose lean meats and poultry and limit saturated fats and salt.
- Limit alcohol. If you drink alcohol, limit to no more than one drink each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be aware that a lack of estrogen means that the protective qualities of this hormone put you at greater risk for heart disease, osteoporosis and other illness. Ask your doctor what tests you need. Have your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar checked. Be sure to do monthly breast self-exams and get a mammogram as recommended.
- Learn about bone health. Be sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D. After menopause, you need 1,500 mg. of calcium daily. Engage in weight-bearing exercise such as walking and working with free weights to help maintain bone tissue and mass.