Menopause is a normal transition that occurs when a woman stops getting regular menstrual periods; it involves various physiological changes, including some significant fluctuations in hormones. Most people realize there are some of the unpleasant symptoms caused by menopause, such as hot flashes, but you may not be aware that menopausal changes in the body are also linked with a risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, urinary tract infections, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer. The good news is that there are some lifestyle changes and self-care activities that you can do to help minimize these risks.  

Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause involves several common symptoms, including:

  • Irregular periods or no periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Weight gain/slowed metabolism
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Night sweats
  • Dry skin
  • Thinning hair
  • Mood changes

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle During Menopause

Healthy lifestyle habits can help you manage menopause symptoms and promote an overall sense of well-being while reducing the risk of certain health conditions (e.g., heart disease, urinary tract infections, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer). According to the Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice, certain types of cancer, including ovarian, breast, and uterine cancer, increase when a person experiences menopause. 

By changing lifestyles, such as eating right, exercising regularly, and taking self-care measures (e.g., screening tests like pap smears and mammograms), your health risks can be minimized, and regular screenings make it possible to initiate early intervention if menopause-related conditions are detected at an early stage.  

Healthy Diet 

A healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet or the heart-healthy diet recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) includes:

  • Plenty of bright-colored fruits and vegetables 
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., cold-water fish, flax seeds, and chia seeds)
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy
  • Avoiding certain foods (e.g., those high in sugar,  processed foods, trans fats, and saturated fats)

The AHA also recommends that people refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol, as well as using minimal amounts of salt and added sugar in their diet. 

Another important dietary consideration as a person ages and approaches menopause is calcium. The daily intake of calcium should be 1200 mg, says Johns Hopkins Medicine. Proper levels of calcium and vitamin D help decrease the risk of age-related bone disease, such as osteoporosis (softening of the bone tissue).

Many people require calcium supplements to meet the daily recommendation; be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking calcium or any other dietary supplement. Too much calcium or vitamin D can cause kidney stones, constipation, and abdominal pain, particularly for those with kidney problems.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol which are known to worsen menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and sleep problems.


The AHA recommends moderate physical activity of 150 minutes a week or high-intensity activity of 75 minutes a week. Regular exercise can help you maintain your weight and heart health. Strength training exercises can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There are many other benefits of regular exercise during menopause, including:

  • Helps to increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels
  • Increases bone mass in the spine, helping to prevent fractures (a benefit of weight-bearing exercises)
  • Improves mood, increasing endorphins in the brain
  • Helps the body fight stress
  • Improves circulation
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves sleep quality

Note, always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any type of exercise routine. 

Stress Reduction and Self-Care

Activities such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness practices can help reduce stress, improving some menopausal symptoms while lowering your risk of heart disease.

According to Breast, “reducing stress and learning how to relax can be helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes for some women.” Research shows that a technique called “paced respiration” helps control hot flashes in some people. The steps involved in this technique include: 

  1. Start your paced respiration as soon as you feel a hot flash starting and continue it for 5 minutes
  2. Breathe slowly and deeply (6-8 times per minute compared to 15 breaths per minute on average)
  3. Inhale very slowly and deeply for 5 seconds, then slowly exhale while counting to 5
  4. Practice this technique every day for 10-15 minutes 

Other tips for self-care during menopause include:

  • Schedule regular screening appointments with your healthcare provider 
  • Talk to your OB/GYN specialist about the risk and benefits if you are considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol (smoking and heavy drinking are major risk factors for heart disease and these substances intensify symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and sleep problems)
  • Control high blood pressure with medication and lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet
  • Take time to relax and enjoy your life 

A Cutting Edge Solution 

At Pacific Gynecology & Obstetrics Medical Group (PGOMG), one of the largest private OB/GYN practices in the San Francisco Bay Area, we know that nearly half of all women suffer from gynecological health changes after menopause. That’s why we offer more than just one solution for our patients experiencing a decrease in their quality of life due to the normal changes that accompany aging. 

In addition to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats, insomnia, and hot flashes, we offer a cutting-edge treatment called the “MonaLisa Touch.” This painless, innovative treatment uses laser therapy to stimulate collagen production in the vaginal cells, which helps balance estrogen levels and alleviates menopausal vaginal symptoms. Learn about our specialized MonaLisa Touch service, or contact us to schedule an appointment today.