Going through menopause is a little like driving on an unfamiliar, twisting road with an unclear destination. You might not be sure of what is around the next turn, where you are going or what’s coming next. And, there’s not one roadmap that will get you to the destination (menopause) until you’ve past it! Fortunately, there are many signs along the way that you might want to check out and see if that path works for you.
We’ve listed some suggestions that you might want to consider to help reduce or prevent the effects of menopause.
Cool hot flashes. Get regular exercise, dress in layers and try to pinpoint what triggers your hot flashes. For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, spicy foods, alcohol, hot weather and even a warm room.
Optimize your sleep. Avoid caffeine and plan to exercise during the day, although not right before bedtime. If hot flashes disturb your sleep, you may need to find a way to manage them before you can get adequate rest.
Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can be helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms.
Strengthen your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscle exercises, called Kegel exercises, can improve some forms of urinary incontinence.
Decrease vaginal discomfort. Use over-the-counter water-based vaginal lubricants (Astroglide, K-Y) or moisturizers (Replens, Vagisil). Staying sexually active also helps.
Eat well. Eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and that limits saturated fats, oils and sugars. Limit alcohol or caffeine, which can affect sleep. Ask your doctor about calcium supplements to help you meet daily requirements, if necessary.
If you smoke, try to quit. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer and a range of other health problems. It may also trigger or increase hot flashes and bring on earlier menopause.
If you’re overweight, losing weight might help with hot flashes. Losing the extra weight can also help with your overall health and well-being.
Exercise regularly. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days helps keep your weight down, improves your sleep, strengthens your bones, and elevates your mood. Regular physical activity also help to protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging.
Some women try herbs or other products that come from plants to help relieve hot flashes. Unfortunately, being “natural” doesn't always mean a product is safe. Make sure to discuss any natural or herbal products with your doctor before taking them. It's also important to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking. Some plant products or foods can be harmful when combined with certain medications.
Some common natural products for hot flashes are:
Soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens which are substances from a plant that may act like the estrogen your body makes. There is no clear proof that soy or other sources of phytoestrogens really do make hot flashes better. And the risks of taking soy products like pills and powders are not known. If you are going to try soy, the best sources are foods such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy nuts.
Other sources of phytoestrogens. These include herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root. There is not enough evidence that these herbs — or pills or creams containing these herbs — help with hot flashes. Also, not enough is known about the risks of using these products.
The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.