Tips for Managing Menopause
Guest writer, Jane Silverstein of Soul Source
Whatever you call it- the changes, menopostal, your private summer, midlife crisis- menopause can come with lots of challenges. Menopause, according to the Mayo Clinic Patient Care and Health Information website, “Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycle. It is diagnosed after you have gone twelve months without a menstrual period.” The average age in the United States is 51, but it is completely normal when it occurs in women in their 40s and 50s.
Menopause is marked by a decline in estrogen. With lower levels of estrogen, many women experience all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms that can impact daily life.
Here are some of the most common complaints of menopause and what you can do to help alleviate them:
Hot flashes, sleep disorders and fatigue, mood swings, and brain fog are all common complaints, however for many women the most troubling aspect is the vaginal dryness, burning, itchiness and painful sex that arise from diminished estrogen levels.
There are many ways to alleviate the symptoms of vaginal dryness. There are many products that can help bring moisturize back to dry, fragile tissue. Some of these products also have hyaluronic acid, the same product dermatologists recommend for aging skin. Always use a good quality lubricant during sexual activity. Make sure it has a PH level and osmolality level similar to vaginal tissue. You might want to also add silicone vaginal dilators into your tool chest. Vaginal dilators help keep the vaginal tissue in shape by increasing blood flow, maintaining elasticity and giving you confidence to stop the pain cycle that may occur after having experienced painful sex. You may also want to talk to your health care provider about a prescription for localized estrogen.
Exercising regularly can help manage mood swings by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Exercising also helps with fatigue and can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which is also an increase risk after menopause. Strive to incorporate 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity into your daily routine. Walking, cycling and swimming are all good choices. Of course, the best exercise to do is the one you enjoy and will stick with.
Hot flashes are such a common complaint that sometimes a slang term for menopause is “my personal summer”.
Believe me, it is no summer vacation. I remember sitting in a business meeting when all of a sudden I felt like I was on fire. Sweat, red face, sticky and clammy! “Is it hot in here?” became my mantra.
Here are some things that helped me. I began to dress in layers. I always carried a fan. And I lost a few pounds. Changing my diet also really helped. I avoided alcohol as that immediately brought on hot flashes. Caffeine and spicy foods were also a trigger. Herbal tea, mostly cold, was my new friend. If you are a smoker, try to quit for your overall health, but it may also help reduce hot flashes.
Many times, getting a good night’s sleep is even more of a challenge after menopause. The night sweats and mood swings may add to sleep disturbances. Researchers recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This is a helpful habit no matter your symptoms. Reducing alcohol and caffeine (as mentioned above) and limiting screen time should all be a part of the plan.
Menopause can have its challenges, however with the right strategies you will get through this. Working with your health care provider and trying some of these tips can help make this time as “cool “ as possible.