The menopause. For some women, it causes no problems - for others, it’s a nightmare. However you find it physically and emotionally, the period when menstruation ceases is a natural part of every woman’s life.
No periods, no pregnancy - the menopause has its positive factors, but the less welcoming symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats and a dry vagina. From low libido and mood swings to memory loss and weight gain, these menopausal side effects are the result of estrogen levels dipping.
But there are ways to help deal with menopause symptoms. The obvious are moisturisers and lubricants to help with vaginal dryness, as well as fans and cotton sheets in the bedroom to help with night sweats. But there are other factors in your life that can be changed to help make this natural rite of passage a less uncomfortable affair. Here are a few of them:
1.Work out more
Blending aerobic activities, strength training and stretches can significantly help menopausal symptoms. Being overweight certainly doesn’t help when you’re overheated, so working out can improve your weight, sleep, stress and overall quality of life. Find something you enjoy - it could be a Zumba class, it could be five-mile runs - then do it at least three times a week.
One study has shown that yoga can cut hot flashes by 31%, regulating your hormones, boosting your sex drive, and cutting your cravings. Regular, gentle yoga practice lowers stress and alleviates pain and discomfort, especially around the back and neck. It’s also been proven to help sufferers of arthritis, a health concern associated with ageing.
3.Swim and de-stress
It’s the drop of estrogen during the menopause that can lead to unbalanced hormones and weight gain. Swimming can torch this unwanted weight, boost your energy, strengthen your heart and combat muscle or joint pain without jarring the body. Stress is another key trigger in hot flashes, so the relaxing feeling of gliding through water and the meditative state it brings can cool down your body and make you feel all-round lighter.
4.Book up for a massage
From dry skin to disturbed sleep, massage therapy can improve many menopause symptoms. Reflexology, acupressure and other kinds of massage can release feel-good endorphins, reduce stress and help to rebalance hormone levels. It can also lower fluid imbalance in the body which causes weight gain.
5.Get the right nutrients
Food is medicine, so strive to eat a balanced diet filled with good fats, complex carbs and plenty of protein. Fill up on fruit and vegetables at every meal and eat three times a day, with a couple of healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar stable. Keep refined carbohydrates and sugars to a minimum.
6.Try herbal remedies
Plants and other herbs have been shown to aid the symptoms of menopause by supporting hormone production. Black cohosh, red clover and dong quai are all thought to reduce hot flashes, while herbs like ginseng and kava are ideal for emotional relief - alleviating mood symptoms and increasing overall wellbeing.