As women become older their bodies produce less oestrogen and progesterone. These are the main hormones responsible for the woman’s ability to reproduce. When these hormones become low enough, a woman will permanently stop having a menstrual cycle. Officially, menopause begins twelve months after a woman’s last period between the ages of 45 and 55. A woman in her menopausal years may not realise what exactly is going on with her body and the symptoms may be unnerving at times. Here are a few tips from experts on how to deal with these menopausal symptoms without allowing them affect your life so much.
Hot Flashes: Hot flash is also referred to as vasomotor symptoms and can begin in perimenopause or after the last menstrual period has occurred. Experts believe that they probably start in the hypothalamus; the part of the brain that controls the body’s temperature. For some reason, the thermostat in the body of a midlife woman is suddenly reset at a temperature that is lower than normal. The hot flash is the body’s way of cooling itself. Women experience hot flashes differently; some women feel warm, others feel like they are burning up. Sometimes hot flashes occur at night, during sleep and may disrupt sleep, causing fatigue and mood swings. Some ways to deal with hot flashes include:
a) Dressing up in layers; that way, you can take something off when a hot flash occurs.
b) Drink water; this way you would replenish the water lost when you go through a hot flash.
c) Use breathing techniques; breathing solely and deeply will help control and lessen the hot flash as it begins.
d) Stay away from things that can make you have a hot flash. Visiting hot places like a sauna, taking hot beverage, hot and spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine and some medications can be triggers for a hot flash. You can even keep a diary to help you keep tabs on what triggers your own hot flash.
e) Short-term hormone therapy is quite effective in treating hot flashes. You can get oestrogen shots that can help relieve your symptoms. However, you can only get this with approval from your doctor so that you don’t run into any risk.
Vaginal Changes: As women age, the vaginal lining thin and vaginal secretions diminishes due to the decrease in oestrogen levels. The vagina also becomes shorter and narrower. This often translates into dryness and irritation which in turn can make sexual intercourse unpleasant. Some ways to handle vaginal changes include
a) Using vaginal lubricants or vaginal moisturisers
b) Applying oestrogen treatments like creams, rings and tablets directly to the vagina
c) Expert advices that regular sexual stimulation can help keep the vagina healthy by maintaining its elasticity.
Mood Swings: Having mood swings, being irritable, crying at the drop of a hat, being hormonal and emotional are all common during menopause. These mood swings can cause conflicts and even disrupt relationships. Some ways to handle your mood swings include:
a) Exercise your body; your mood will benefit from it. Experts suggest that you find an exercise buddy or walk with your spouse so that you can kill two birds with one stone; “work out the mood” and strengthen your relationship.
b) Meditating is a good way to manage your emotions. Calming your mind can calm your mood too.
Weight Gain: Anytime women gain weight, it’s distressing to them. Metabolism slows down as you age, so menopause is a common time to begin gaining pounds. Weight loss in menopause requires the same approaches that it does at other times in your life. However, try not to set unreasonable goals for your target weight.
a) Weight Train: If you’ve never tried weight training before, you can try it now. It would not only help you get stronger, it would also help increase the androgen levels for better libido, which would step up your “resting” metabolism and prevent osteoporosis.
b) Walk: Research has shown that walking is good for just about everything that hails you in menopause. Walking is easy on your joints, does not require any special equipment except your good shoes, and it burns calories reliably. You can vary your walking speed to improve your calorie burn. It would also rev up your metabolism.
c) Diets: More vegetables and fruits, and stress management also go a long way in helping you deal with that weight gain.