Menopause and Healthy Living: Tips for Staying Vital and Vibrant

The storm called menopause is a natural phenomenon every woman goes through when they reach their 50s. The average age for menopause in women in the United States is 51. Some women may experience menopause way too early, in their 40s or even 30s, while some may go through menopause post their 50s as well.

Menopause is the time when you have not had your periods for 12 consecutive months. The period after your menopause has started is the postmenopause phase. Before menopause is the perimenopause phase that mostly starts when women are 40-44 years of age. It can commence earlier or later, though. The several physical changes that occur start showing up in the transition phase itself. 

There’s nothing you can do to stop menopause. However, by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can for sure be rejuvenated and cope with the symptoms during menopause. Let’s take a look at the different things you can do right before, during, and after menopause to be in the best frame of mind. 

What Are the Things You Can Do to Remain Healthy During Menopause? 

Menopause comes with a whole lot of physical changes. But, along with that, there’s a whole lot of emotional and social changes as well, dealing with which becomes a challenge. Let’s talk about some of the coping strategies for menopause that could help make your life better. 

To Cope with Physical Changes 

Menopause means all about an array of physical changes. Some of these include: 

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats 
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hair loss
  • Sore breasts
  • Mood swings 
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Sleep problems 
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning of hair 
  • Dried skin 
  • Concentration problems and forgetfulness 

These are just some of the many changes your body goes through in and after menopause. Dealing with these changes is a mammoth task indeed. It takes a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. Here are some tips. 

1. For Hot Flashes

A hot flash is a condition where you experience a feeling of warmth throughout your body, mainly your chest, face, and neck. The skin becomes red, and it seems as if you are blushing. The low estrogen levels are responsible for the bouts of hot flashes. Here are ways to deal with them. 

  • You should avoid any triggers that may aggravate your hot flashes, like alcohol, caffeinated beverages, spicy foods, and smoking. Instead, resort to a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, adequate amounts of protein, and fatty fish. Cooling foods like broccoli, spinach, bananas, and apples, help to alleviate hot flashes.
  • To deal with hot flashes when it is cold outside or inside your room, dressing in layers will help. When you have episodes of hot flashes, you can take off some of the clothes to feel cool and comfortable. Followed by hot flashes are cold chills, so you can again put on the warm cardigan to feel better.
  • During a hot flash, you’ll feel better when you take slow and deep breaths. Put one hand on your stomach above the belly button, and breathe in and out. Do this around five to ten times. This will lessen the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
  • When a lot of body heat is lost, your body will sweat to cool you down. Keeping an electric fan by your bedside may help. You could even place an ice pack under your pillow for instant relief.
  • Drink sufficient amounts of water to lessen incidences of hot flashes. Also, keep a jug of cold water by your bedside at night. You’ll feel better when you drink water during hot flashes.
  • When hot flashes go out of control, they might be treated with antiseizure and antidepressant medications as prescribed by the doctor.

2. For Vaginal Dryness 

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Estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining the thickness, lubrication, and elasticity of the vagina. Low estrogen levels in the perimenopause and menopause stages make the vaginal walls thin, dry, and inflamed. This leads to vaginal dryness. Here’s all that you can do for the same.

  • Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants mostly help with vaginal dryness. While some are available with a prescription, a few require a prescription to be purchased. 
  • When OTCs aren’t enough to help you with vaginal dryness, you may consult a doctor. He or she might prescribe topical estrogen available in vaginal rings, tablets, and creams.
  • Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and flaxseed oils have been considered beneficial for vaginal dryness. They are mostly taken orally as supplements.
  • Wear good quality, breathable undergarments to minimize friction and rashes.

3. For Bone Loss 

Estrogen levels are again the culprit behind bone loss in menopause. As per estimations, women lose around 10% of bone mass in the initial 5 years post the menopausal stage. To keep your bones in good shape, there are some things that you can do from your end. 

  • Incorporate sufficient amounts of Vitamin D and calcium in your diet. Some women even opt for supplements. Studies show that proper Vitamin D intake in postmenopause lessens the chances of hip fracture occurring because of weak bones.
  • Weight-bearing exercises such as climbing stairs, walking, jogging, and dancing may help increase bone density. Keep at least 30 minutes each day for physical activities. If you’re suffering from osteoporosis, talk to the doctor before fixing an exercise regime. The slightest twist or bend could hurt your spine. 

4. For Insomnia

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Besides the low estrogen levels, hot flashes and mood swings are also responsible for sleep problems and insomnia in and after menopause. 

  • Stick to a fixed sleep schedule, and avoid deviations. Also, cut down on the afternoon and late evening naps. That could hamper your night’s sleep. 
  • Give yourself a warm bath or do anything that soothes your mind. These may include listening to soft music or reading your favorite book.
  • Avoid electronic devices like mobile or computers before bedtime. Studies show that these devices could hinder melatonin production, which helps with sleep. 
  • Going for meditation and relaxation techniques before bedtime may help. 

5. For Dry Skin

Low estrogen levels are responsible for dry and saggy skin in menopause. Studies show that around 30% of the collagen is lost in the initial 5 years after menopause. Less collagen means low elasticity of the skin, leading to a wrinkled and saggy appearance.

  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • Apply moisturizer after a bath and also on occasions when your skin becomes dry. 
  • Substitute mild cleanser for soap which makes the skin more dry. 
  • If you still suffer from dry skin, contact a dermatologist. 

6. For Hair Loss

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The hormonal imbalances are again responsible for hair loss in women during the menopausal phase and even after that. Here’s what you can do to restore your hair growth: 

  • Maintain a healthy diet of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. You should also add sesame and olive oil to your diet to replenish your hair growth. Supplements of Vitamin B6 and folic acid also foster hair growth. 
  • Menopause may have already led to hair loss, which can be triggered by external factors like stress and exercise. So you would need to be in a good state of mind and exercise regularly. 
  • Keep yourself hydrated, and avoid using heat tools like straightening irons and hair dryers. Always go for natural hair colors, as artificial chemicals may damage your scalp. 

To Cope with Emotional Changes

When you are not in the perfect physical state, your emotional well-being goes for a toss as well. Your peace of mind may start getting disrupted from the perimenopause stage and become worse during the menopause and postmenopause stages. You are likely to experience the following changes: 

  • Crankiness
  • A sudden outburst of anger 
  • Anxiousness
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Forgetfulness
  • Concentration issues 
  • Mood swings 
  • Fatigue 

To cope with these emotional transformations, here is what you can do: 

  • Try meditation for at least 15-20 minutes a day. It will help in lifting your mood and make you feel better. 
  • Yoga is a good way to improve brain fog, stress, and concentration problems, which are quite common in menopause. Restorative yoga, often done with props like folded blankets, not just help in treating pain but also relaxes the nervous system.
  • Eat healthy, and avoid skipping meals, as that could make it difficult to manage weight.
  • Set a goal for yourself and work on your priorities, like your hobby, skills, and so on. Take one goal at a time, and aim to achieve the same.
  • You are not alone, and many women are sailing on the same boat as you. You could join a menopause group and share your plight with like-minded women. 
  • If you find it difficult to cope with your emotional state of mind, you can speak to a psychotherapist and opt for CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps people to cope with stress in their day-to-day life.
  • The ultimate resort to deal with stress, irritability, and anxiety is to go for HRT or hormone replacement therapy. You may discuss it with your doctor. But, you also have to be aware of the side effects it comes with, like increasing the risk of blood clots and stroke.

Conclusion

To sum it up, a proper lifestyle with a healthy diet will help you cope with the toilsome symptoms of menopause, letting you stay vibrant. Do not miss out on the annual checkups even after menopause. These include pelvic exams, breast exams, and PAP tests to ensure you are in the best of your health.

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