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10 Ways to Reduce the Symptoms of Menopause

10 Ways to Reduce the Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause is an important time in a woman’s life; a time to focus on her health. It’s not an illness—it’s a major transition that comes with a lot of symptoms. During menopause, there are steps to take to help with these symptoms and protect your health against some of the risks you might face.

What, exactly, is menopause? It’s defined as the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles due to age or sometimes the removal of the uterus or ovaries. It usually happens between the ages of 45-55, with a median age of 51, and lasts a few years before menstruation stops for good. A woman has reached full menopause when she stops having periods for a full year.

It’s possible for it to start earlier or later than the usual range, and some women go through perimenopause first. That’s a time before menopause when a woman might have hormonal changes, irregular or changing periods, and other symptoms in preparation for menopause. Not all women go through it, and it can start as many as ten years before menopause.

So how do you know if you’re starting menopause? You’ll most likely have several of these common symptoms:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Flushing (your face gets red)
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Incontinence (trouble controlling your urine)
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Spotty memory
  • Thinning hair
  • More facial or body hair
  • Loss of breast mass
  • Dry skin, mouth, or eyes
  • Frequent headaches or joint pain

If you have these symptoms, and you’re within the age range for menopause (especially if you’re at an age where other women in your family went through it), talk to your doctor. If it feels a little too early, ask to be tested for underactive thyroid—many of the symptoms noted above are the same, and it’s common for women as they get older.

Natural aids for menopausal symptoms

You may work with your doctor to find medical treatments for your symptoms, such as hormone therapy or antidepressants. However, if your symptoms aren’t extreme, or you prefer to take non-medical steps first, here are ten ways you can manage them naturally:

  1. Quit smoking. Smoking can make your symptoms worse, aside from the other risks it poses to your long-term health. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to quit, now is the time.
  2. Get enough sleep. Getting plenty of rest is always important, but issues with memory, moods, depression, and anxiety all improve when you’re not sleep-deprived.
  3. Reduce caffeine. Cutting back on caffeine helps with sleeplessness, but it also reduces stress on your bladder. Caffeine can also trigger hot flashes.
  4. Get more exercise. Just three hours of light exercise every week has benefits for menopausal women, including help with moods and body aches and (with strength training) reducing the risk of osteoporosis, which increases for women as they go into menopause.
  5. Drink up. Drinking cold beverages helps calm hot flashes, and drinking warm milk or chamomile tea before bed can help you sleep.
  6. Control the temperature. It’s okay to adjust your space to help your body temperature. Lower the thermostat, layer your blankets for easy on and off, keep cold packs in the freezer, and dress in lighter clothes or layers to make hot flashes more manageable.
  7. Use vaginal lube. Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants help ease dryness. Look for a water or aloe-based option, or one with vitamin E for something gentle and soothing.
  8. Get rid of trigger foods. You might notice that some spicy or acidic foods seem to bring on night sweats or hot flashes, so cut those out of your diet for now. Also, acidic foods like citrus can irritate the bladder lining and make incontinence worse.
  9. Seek support. Many women struggle with facing menopause and the idea of getting older. If your depression seems like it’s related to your feelings about menopause, seek out a therapist, support network, or even women in your friend's groups or family members who have gone through or are going through it, and talk it out.
  10. Eat your phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that our bodies react to like the hormone estrogen, which gets lower in menopausal women. Some studies have suggested that a diet rich in phytoestrogens can balance that hormone loss and reduce symptoms of menopause. Because it means eating lots of fruits, veggies, and legumes, it’s also great for your overall health.

There are mixed opinions about using supplements to treat symptoms of menopause, such as vitamin E or black cohosh, but no solid evidence yet. However, taking calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium supplements may help your energy levels and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Adding those to your daily routine is a great idea.

You may have to experiment a little bit before you find what works best for you. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor and ask for recommendations and guidance. This is something that every woman goes through, and help is available—we’re here for you.