Sorry ladies, there’s just no way around menopause. In fact, it’s a natural part of a woman’s life cycle. Menopause is when your periods stop permanently, and you can no longer get pregnant.
A woman is believed to reach the menopause stage only after it has been a full year since her last period. This means there is no incidence of any bleeding, including spotting, for 12 consecutive months.
The average age for menopause in the United States is 52, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services . However, women can stop having periods somewhere between ages 45 and 55.
Once you reach menopause, your ovaries make very low levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The low hormone levels cause several changes in the body.
Some common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, vaginal dryness, weight gain, insomnia, changes in sleep quality, dry hair, thinning hair, changes in the breasts, foggy brain and headaches.
Menopause also increases the risk of certain other age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, dementia and osteoporosis.
Menopause is not an illness, so there is no cure. While menopause symptoms can be hard to handle and take a toll on your mental and physical health, it is not something that cannot be managed.
Here are the top 10 tips to deal with menopause and avoid complications.
1. Lose Weight
The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can make you gain weight, especially around the abdomen.
Apart from hormonal changes, weight gain during this time can be related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.
A 2012 study published in Climacteric reports that hormonal changes throughout the perimenopause stage substantially contribute to increased abdominal obesity, which leads to additional physical and psychological morbidity .
Another study published in the Australian Family Physician in 2017 states that women may gain an average of 5 pounds during menopause. Women who are already overweight are more likely to gain weight during this period in their life .
As increased belly fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease and other life-threatening diseases, it is important to take necessary steps to lose weight.
Focus on a healthy lifestyle to manage your weight. Eating a healthy and balanced diet and exercising regularly can help a lot in maintaining a healthy body weight.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is important for everyone, including women who are finding it difficult to handle menopause symptoms.
Regular exercise can help relieve hot flashes, regulate your mood, improve sleep quality and manage your weight.
It can also help manage several risk factors associated with menopause complications, including heart disease, high inflammation, bone loss or muscle wasting, and chronic stress.
A 2014 study published in Menopause provides strong evidence that 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise does not alleviate vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes but may result in small improvements in sleep quality, insomnia and depression in midlife sedentary women .
Another study published in Menopause Review in 2016 reports that controlled and regular exercise for 12 weeks significantly correlated with a positive change in vitality and mental health.
Sedentary women should consider modifying their lifestyle to include physical activity, as it leads to improved quality of life .
For most healthy adults up to age 65, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week is recommended.
3. Reduce and Manage Stress
Many women experience increased levels of stress, anxiety, moodiness and even episodes of depression during the menopause stage.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health found that higher perceived stress and a more negative attitude toward aging can have a direct impact on menopausal symptom experience .
A 2016 study published in the Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research reported that a large number of factors were associated with experiencing menopausal and psycho-social problems.
The study also reports that depression, anxiety and stress should be considered as important risk factors for osteoporosis .
Too much stress and anxiety in life can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health, thus it becomes more important to manage your stress level.
Different stress-reducing techniques work for different people. Some effective ways to relieve stress include exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, spending time in nature, listening to music, fostering close relationships, investing time on a hobby, volunteering and dedicating time to spiritual practices.
4. Sleep Well
Experiencing poor sleep quality is a common symptom of menopause. Changes in your hormone levels can lead to hot flashes and fatigue, which can affect sleep.
A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that sleep disorders are common, with a prevalence of 29.5 percent in menopausal women. It significantly causes psychosocial problems in women, and it needs to be treated promptly .
Earlier, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reported that menopausal sleep disruption can exacerbate other pre-existing sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome and circadian disorders .
During menopause, it’s very important to practice good sleep habits so you can get enough high-quality sleep at night.
Adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Exercising during the day, avoiding caffeine in the evening and following a regular sleep schedule may help you fall and stay asleep more easily.
To prevent hot flashes from disturbing your sleep, try to sleep in a cool room, dress in layers and keep a glass of cold water nearby.
5. Take Care of Your Bones
Estrogen plays a key role in building new bone. As your estrogen level drops during menopause, it can have a negative effect on bone density.
In fact, bone density often drops at a fast rate during the first few years of menopause, leading to an increased risk of bone fractures.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2008 reports that bone loss accelerates substantially in the late perimenopause stage and continues at a similar pace in the first postmenopausal years.
Researchers found that body weight is a major determinant of the rate of menopausal bone mineral density loss .
To keep an eye on your bone strength, consider getting a bone density test done. In the meantime to maintain the strength of your bones, eat more foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, do strength-training exercises and take necessary measures to prevent falls.
6. Get Acupuncture
Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicinal practice, can offer therapeutic benefits and may reduce the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and aches and pains.
A 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal concludes that use of acupuncture in addition to self-care can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction of hot flashes and increased health-related quality of life among women going through menopause .
Another study published in Menopause in 2016 found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in vasomotor symptoms and several quality-of-life measures compared with no acupuncture, and the clinical benefit persisted for at least six months beyond the end of treatment .
As acupuncture has very few side effects, it is safe for most women. But it is important to get it done by a physician who is trained in acupuncture. Treatment duration will vary from one person to another.