Menopause is a natural phase in a women’s life that signals the end of her reproductive years. It is not a disease. However, the symptoms of menopause and the transition to it can be debilitating for some women and adversely affect their quality of life. Furthermore there are some diseases that are more likely to occur or worsen with menopause. For these reasons, menopause symptoms may sometimes require treatment with hormonal replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT For Menopause Symptoms
There is widespread concern about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) among women across the globe. Many cite the risk of breast cancer when using HRT. However, the cancer risk with HRT is significantly less than the risk of cardiovascular diseases that may arise during the menopausal years. Another major risk with avoiding HRT when indicated is that osteoporosis can significantly affect a person’s quality of life when repeated fractures of the bones occur and does not heal properly.
The search for a natural way to treat menopausal symptoms and prevent the associated disease that may arise or worsen with menopause has been ongoing. For centuries, there have been various different herbal remedies proposed as a possible answer. Some have shown promising benefits when researched by modern techniques. Others have shown to be of little benefit. However, it has also been noted that simple lifestyle measures and dietary changes can be beneficial in managing the symptoms of menopause.
Perimenopause is the period before menopause completely sets in. The symptoms of menopause commences from perimenopause – even before there is complete cessation of your periods. Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Irregular periods (until it completely ceases)
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Vaginal dryness
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain
Avoid Triggers of Hot Flashes
Hot flashes is one of the most common symptoms that most menopausal women complain about. It lasts anywhere from around 3 minutes to half an hour. These hot flashes are episodic and usually not predictable. But sometimes it may occur during or after certain identifiable factors or events. These triggers can vary from one person to another. Therefore you should keep a diary of your hot flashes and possible triggers like drinking coffee or alcohol, when you feel worried or angry, being in a crowded room and so on. Once identified, you should try your utmost to avoid these triggers.
Exercise More and Relax
There are a range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms that arises with menopause. Apart from HRT, there is no single solution to counteract all these symptoms. Fatigue, mood changes, sleep disturbances and dealing with the sudden hot flashes can be debilitating. It can be quite stressful for women to have to live with these symptoms for months and years. Simple techniques can help. Exercise can help you overcome that physical and mental fatigue and stabilize your moods. The same applies to relaxation techniques like yoga and taichi. Sometimes just taking a break from daily chores, relaxing on the couch and getting a good night’s sleep can work wonders.
Sleep Light and Cool
Hot flashes at night and the accompanying sweating can upset your sleep. It can be so severe that you may have to wake up at night to change your drenched pajamas. Some of the ways you can minimize the severity of hot flashes during sleep and night sweats is to use thinner clothing for sleeping. Try light and airy fabrics like cotton. Avoid the heavy woolen blankets and rather stick with a thin sheet for covers if the weather permits. An electric fan or air conditioning can also be useful if opening a window to keep the room cool is not practical. Remember that sleeping in a room with a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the house helps you fall asleep and sleep better.
Use Aids For Intimacy
Sexual health can be greatly affected by menopause. Vaginal dryness and loss of desire are two common problems experienced by menopausal women. There are a number of products on the market that can be useful to counteract the dryness. These lubricants and moisturizers are available in a variety of forms and it is advisable to discuss it with your doctor first to get the best recommendation. Treating diminished libido is not as easy. Exercise can be helpful to some degree. But it also requires patience and understanding on the part of your partner. Try to learn new techniques that may be exciting in the bedroom and spend more time being intimate before intercourse, like long and sensual massages.
Balance Your Moods
The anxiety, irritability, mood changes and sometimes depression associated with menopause not only affects the life of the woman undergoing menopause but also her close contacts and interpersonal relationships. Managing these mood changes can be difficult. Exercise and relaxation techniques can be useful but sometimes your doctor may need to prescribe anti-anxiety medication or a mild antidepressant. Involve yourself in activities that will keep you busy and that you will enjoy. Start up on your hobbies that you have been neglecting, spend time outdoors and even take up a sport that you may enjoy. Meditation may also help you gain control over your emotions and mood changes.
Change Your Hair Products
Thinning hair, dry hair and sometimes the hair loss that occurs with menopause may not be physically debilitating but it can have a significant effect on a woman’s self esteem. While the hormonal changes contributes to the thinning hair, it is also partly a problem with your hair care products. Hair dyes have very strong chemicals which can dry you hair and even damage it. At a time when you would want to color your hair more frequently, it may not be a good idea to do so or at least not use strong coloring agents. Also consider milder hair care products like baby shampoo, hair oils to moisturize your scalp and hair and use a hat to shield the hair from the sun which can dry it out further.
Reassess Your Skin Care
Dry skin is a well known symptom of menopause, but the skin changes does not end there. Some women develop acne, and melasma is another skin condition that seems closely linked to menopause. Acne during menopause may be surprising as most people consider it to be a teenage problem. But is due to hormonal changes which is essentially what menopause is. The same applies to melasma. Keeping your skin care regime simple is important. Use mild cleansers and moisturizers. Minimize the makeup when not necessary. Do not forget to use a good sunblock when you go out in the sun. If you are experiencing serious problems with your skin, then see a dermatologist rather than trying to treat it on your own.