During menopause, the ovaries produce lower levels of female reproductive hormones, which can cause a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms. Although coping with these symptoms sometimes requires medication or hormone replacement therapy, in many cases women can manage menopause on their own by making a few lifestyle adjustments.
A common symptom of menopause, hot flashes are the experience of feeling suddenly and intensely warm, especially in the chest, neck, and face areas. To help curtail the heat, try:
- Dressing in layers
- Lowering the room temperature
- Using a mini handheld fan
- Identifying and avoiding triggers (smoking, alcohol, and spicy foods are common triggers).
Menopause sometimes causes sleeping disorders such as insomnia. To help yourself get a good amount of high-quality sleep, try:
- Maintaining an exact bedtime routine and schedule
- Avoiding naps during the day
- Avoiding excessive caffeine consumption
- Exercising regularly, but never too close to bedtime.
Brain fog and forgetfulness can be very frustrating and may make you feel like you’re losing your mind. However, it’s just your hormones playing tricks on your brain. To keep your brain sharp and your thoughts organized, try:
- Eating a healthy diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Keeping a diary or notepad on hand to write things down
- Exercising your brain by doing puzzles or picking up a new hobby
- Self-calming routines, such as meditation or yoga.
The vagina normally produces a thin layer of clear, lubricating fluid that helps to protect the vaginal lining. During menopause, because of reduced levels of estrogen, the vagina often stops producing this fluid, resulting in vaginal dryness. This can not only be irritating and feel itchy, but it can also make sex painful.
Medication is often used to help, but there are some over-the-counter solutions, including lubricants. Lubricants come in several varieties, including water-based, silicone-based, oil-based, plant oil-based, natural, and warming – each of which have their own pros and cons. You can also try using vaginal moisturizers, which are applied periodically and provide moisture for a few days.
Some women experience full-blown migraines during menopause. Migraines differ from regular headaches in intensity and can include symptoms such as sensitivity to light and nausea. They are often triggered by something external, such as lack of sleep, hunger, stress, or certain aromas.
To prevent migraines, try to keep track of what’s causing them. Keep a record of your daily habits, including what you ate and when, your sleep schedule, and anything else you notice. Once you discern a pattern and can identify your triggers, avoid them as much as possible.
Lifestyle changes can often help alleviate menopause symptoms, but if these symptoms become really disruptive and unmanageable, you should definitely talk to your gynecologist. Together, you can come up with a plan for managing the symptom or get you started on medication and hormone replacement therapy. To learn more about menopause management, contact Pacific Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group.