Menopausal? Try These 3 Tips to Ease Symptoms
Menopausal transition often reveals itself in many forms: hot flashes, irritability, and irregular periods – to name a few.
However, Vaishali Bhalani MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Premier Obstetrics and Gynecology, reminds patients that menopause doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
“There’s help out there. Absolutely,” she says. “I think it really does take counseling and individualizing therapy.”
Menopause: What is it?
Menopause is a natural process, which usually happens gradually between the ages of 45 and 55, when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs and the production of female hormones declines.
After a woman has gone an entire year without a menstrual period, she is considered to have reached menopause. “By definition, I say menopause is a whole year of no menstrual period.” Dr. Bhalani explains. "When you’ve hit that one year . . . you’re in menopause, or you’re post-menopausal.”
During menopause, women experience a variety of symptoms that may include:
- Heart pounding or racing
- Hot flashes
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Mood changes
- Night sweats
- Sleeping problems or insomnia
- Vaginal dryness
“Once women are done with menopause and the transition, the symptoms should subside, but a small percentage of women may continue to have those symptoms that are bothersome throughout their menopausal years,” she points out.
Ways to Relieve Menopause Symptoms
Tip #1: Exercise Regularly
Introducing physical activity may help reduce mild symptoms, like irritability or insomnia. Dr. Bhalani recommends 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.
“Sometimes exercise alone can help reduce hot flashes and even decrease stress during that time, or channel your energy to less mood irritability so you just feel healthier and more energetic,” she says.
Tip #2: Take Deep Breaths
Breathing exercises, like yoga or Pilates, help relax the body during what can be a physically and mentally exhausting transition. Dr. Bhalani says activities like yoga can help, “in terms of keeping well-balanced and coming to peace with the transition, because menopause is a natural occurrence.”
Tip #3: Develop Nutritious Eating Habits
Once women become menopausal, the drop in estrogen usually causes a rapid drop in bone health, which often puts them at risk for osteoporosis.
While a combination of calcium and vitamin D can help combat the bone loss that often accompanies menopause, Dr. Bhalani reminds patients they don’t need to rely on supplements for these nutrients. “If you’re eating healthy nutrients and not processed food, I think you’ll get your natural vitamins and nutrients you actually need,” she explains. “The best source of vitamin D and calcium is in dairy products, so we can drink more milk or eat more yogurt.”
She also warns: “The guidelines are changing . . . so check with your doctor to see what the latest guidelines are to learn whether you do need or don’t need calcium.”
Regular physical activity, especially muscle-strengthening exercises, is another way to slow the progression of osteoporosis.
Menopause: The Bottom Line
"It really is individualization. . . Every woman is different, so it’s hard to pinpoint."
*All professionals quoted in this article were affiliated with TriHealth at the time of initial publication.
Last Updated: March 18, 2013