Managing Menopause

Menopause symptom management at home

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

Menopause occurs as the time of a women’s fertility comes to an end. Though this is a normal phase and process, the period of menopause can prove difficult and trying for many women.  

According to the Mayo Clinic, “the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause can disrupt your sleep, sap your energy and — at least indirectly — trigger feelings of sadness and loss.”

Thankfully, there are many ways in which women can make lifestyle changes to help ease these symptoms at home.

Diet and Exercise

One of the basic tips recommended to ease uncomfortable menopause symptoms is to eat well and exercise. Not only can doing so help specific symptoms, it can also help protect the body as it copes with other issues related to aging.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies ensures that the body is receiving a good mix of nutrients and vitamins.

It is best to partner this practice of healthy eating with exercise to help keep the body in tune.

“Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days to protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging,” reports the Mayo Clinic.

As a bonus benefit, exercise can also help with the discomfort of hot flashes.

Sleep and Relaxation

However, it is important not to let exercise interfere with another important step to staying comfortable during menopause – getting plenty of sleep. 

The Mayo Clinic mentions that it may help to exercise during the day, but to avoid doing so right before bed so that it doesn’t make falling asleep difficult. Avoiding caffeine and getting hot flashes under control can also help women sleep easy.

“Try drinking something warm before bedtime, such as caffeine-free tea or warm milk,” recommends Womenshealth.gov, a website from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. While these beverages may help, it is probably best to avoid other beverages like caffeine and alcohol near bedtime.

For women having trouble sleeping through the night, it can also be helpful to avoid taking afternoon naps and create a routine of going to sleep and rising at the same times every day.

If you do wake up in the middle of the night and are having trouble getting back to sleep, Women’s Health suggests getting up to do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.

Relaxation can also help patients sleep easy, and can help reduce stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation, can be helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms.”

Women’s Health also reports that slow deep breathing can also help with symptoms as a hot flash is setting in.

Hot Flashes

To battle hot flashes at home there are a number of steps women can take.

One simple tip is to wear layers of clothing so that adjustments can easily be made to stay comfortable when a hot flash strikes. Keeping a fan in your office and at home is another easy way to better manage hot flashes.

It is also important to try to keep track and notice what triggers hot flashes. This can vary from patient to patient and by taking care to take notice, women can better avoid these triggers.

“For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, spicy foods, alcohol, hot weather and even a warm room,” says the Mayo Clinic.

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) may be another good option for treating hot flashes. However this option is not the best for every woman, so it is important to speak with a doctor. Issues with mood swings can also be improved by MHT in some cases.

Women’s Health reports that other prescription medicines (like antidepressants, epilepsy medicine and blood pressure medicine) may help some women with hot flash symptoms. Doctors will help each patient determine the best methods for their unique case.

Vaginal Discomfort

For some women, issues like urinary incontinence and vaginal dryness can come about during menopause.

If urinary incontinence is an issue, Kegels, or exercises that aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help in some patients.

For patients that suffer from vaginal discomfort, staying sexually active may help. The Mayo Clinic recommends over-the-counter water-based vaginal lubricants or moisturizers.

According to Women’s Health, “An over-the-counter vaginal moisturizer like Replens can help keep needed moisture in your vagina if used every few days and can make sex more comfortable.”

Mood and Memory

Issues with mood swings or memory problems can also cause trouble during menopause for some women.

For mood issues, it may be helpful to get involved with a support group to connect with women dealing with the same issues.

It is best to try and stay positive and be careful of stress levels. The relaxation and sleep techniques mentioned earlier can also provide assistance in this area.

It is important to take mood issues seriously. Women’s Health reports, “Talk to your doctor. He or she can look for signs of depression, which is a serious illness that needs treatment. You also could consider seeing a therapist to talk about your problems.”

If troubles with memory are at play, some women notice an improvement in symptoms with the practices of regular exercise and getting plenty of sleep.

However, Women’s Health also warns not to take issues with memory lightly either, as these problems may not be connected with menopause, but with other aging issues.

“If forgetfulness or other mental problems are affecting your daily life, see your doctor,” reports the organization.

Menopause can be a difficult and trying time. But by taking an active step in working to manage their symptoms at home and live a healthy lifestyle, women can help make this naturally challenging phase a little bit easier.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 28, 2012