Menopause begins one year after your last menstrual period without other obvious causes. The average menopause age, according to the North American Menopause Society, is 51. However, it can occur earlier or later from ages 40 to 58.
Menopause occurs in a couple of stages: perimenopause and post-menopause. Perimenopause is gradual and occurs a few months to seven years before the onset of menopause.
During this phase, ovaries produce less estrogen hormone and fewer eggs. Periods become less regular and the phase may begin as early as the mid-30s to the mid-40s. Although periods are less regular during perimenopause, women can still conceive and become pregnant.
Post menopause, also known as menopause, occurs after women have missed their periods for over a year. The uterine lining ceases thickening and the body produces little estrogen hormone during this stage. After this stage, a woman can’t become pregnant.
Symptoms of Menopause
Although menopause is a natural transition, it’s never easy. Levels of estrogen in the body begin to decline, leading to higher cholesterol levels, unwanted weight gain, and increased risk for various chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
Women experience various troublesome symptoms during the menopause transition. These symptoms vary from one woman to another.
Weight gain, hot flashes, hormonal changes, irritability, and decreased bone health are typical of menopause. Other common symptoms of menopause include:
- Trouble sleeping, insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Vaginal changes (loss of tissue elasticity and dryness)
- Emotional changes
- Lighter or heavier periods
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Shorter or longer times between periods
- Incontinence and changes in urinary frequency
Although menopause symptoms vary from one woman to another, there’s need for self-care. Women should learn how to successfully manage the changes that occur in their bodies during menopause.
Self-care during menopause ranges from getting sufficient sleep to dietary changes to exercises that help fight body stresses. Changes that occur during menopause affect your mind and body, hence the need for self-care or treatment in worst-case scenarios.
Menopause comes with increased risk for chronic conditions such as cancer and bone disease. But, preventive measures can optimize your health to help you transition through this period and beyond.
Moreover, menopause isn’t a disease and doesn’t have to result in life-changing effects. You can naturally control the symptoms of menopause or cruise through the transition with minimal impact.
Women can’t avoid menopause and its related symptoms. But you can transition through it easily with healthy living tips and enjoy the period of no more PMS, periods and pregnancy worries.
Ranging from exercise to a balanced diet to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), here’re healthy lifestyle habits you must develop for easy transition:
6 Tips to Help You Manage the Symptoms of Menopause
1. Make lifestyle choices that ease menopause
Adopt the following lifestyle choices to keep the symptoms of perimenopause in check:
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid hot flash triggers such as hot showers or spicy food
- Adopt techniques for stress management
2. Hormone replacement therapy for symptom relief
Medications can ease the symptoms of menopause. Low-dose birth control pills control irregular and heavy periods during early perimenopause.
Hormone therapy is effective for easing symptoms such as hot flashes that arise during menopause. You’ll find this treatment handy if you’re unable to get good night’s sleep due to hot flashes. Taking care of night sweats and hot flashes also ease depression and anxiety to give you good sleep.
You can live life fully during menopause because it isn’t a disease that requires treatment. With hormone replacement therapy, you can cease the turns and tosses preventing you from getting quality sleep.
Bodily changes can result in low self-esteem and discomfort. Studies link weight gain to health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance, a condition that involves incorrect use of insulin and a risk factor for diabetes.
Stay physically active to control your body weight. Engage in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises at least 5 days a week to keep your metabolism high.
Even without going to a gym, daily activities and house chores can keep you on your feet and active. Park farther from your office or destination to walk for at last minutes. Take the stairs instead of using the elevator, dance or do gardening during your free time.
Do strength training twice a week to slow mineral loss in your bones (it can easily cause osteoporosis) and replace your lost muscle mass.
Pick fun physical activities you’re bound to enjoy to keep you motivated. Include your family and friends in your exercise regimes to get more morale from your loved ones.
Exercise can protect women against chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. It also controls menopausal weight gain, reduces stress and moodiness, and relieves hot flashes.
Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles responsible for affecting your bowel, bladder and uterus functioning. Regular pelvic floor exercises can enhance urinary incontinence.
Use pee proof underwear to manage urine leaks and up your hygiene during this transition. Opt for reusable pants to help you save costs. Try to empty your bladder frequently to prevent urine leaks.
Contract your pelvic muscles and hold for a few seconds before releasing to relax. Do a set of 3 contractions, each 10 times daily for effective results. However, talk to your doctor before embarking on exercises to ensure that you pick safe options for you.
Some of the best exercises during this phase of life include:
4. Special dietary recommendations – Eat a balanced nutrition
A healthy diet can lower your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease. It also controls menopausal weight gain.
Make fruits, whole grains, and vegetables part of your filling meals. Add lean proteins such as lentils and beans and low-fat dairy products to your meals because they’re nutritious.
Complement your meals with vitamin D and calcium supplements for enhanced bone health and prevent osteoporosis. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, consume at least 800 IUs of vitamin Day daily and 1,200 mg of calcium every day.
Opt for home cooked meals instead of eat-outs and watch your intake of sodium. The need to drink lots of water goes without saying. Water moves fiber through your system, hydrates your body and fights hot flashes.
Fruits and veggies are rich in water and nutrients your body need to function optimally. Eating specific foods such as leafy greens and oatmeal can prevent or relieve menopausal symptoms.
Some nutrient-packed foods can fight unwanted symptoms linked to menopause. The foods to eat for easy transition through menopause include:
- Salmon – rich in omega-3 fats and vitamin D, nutrients essential during menopause. Although there’s need for more research into this field, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are beneficial to menopause. They reduce the risk for breast cancer, and reduce night sweats. Omega 3s also ease menopausal symptoms. Vitamin D prevents cancer, supports healthy bones, and prevents other chronic conditions such as stroke. It also lowers the risk for early menopause.
- Whole grains – Provide heart-healthy soluble fiber, vitamins B and plant protein for metabolism control and energy source. The good carbs reduce risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or even death.
- Broccoli – A study found that broccoli positively impacts the levels of estrogen. It increases the level of estrogen in the body to reduce the risk for breast cancer and reducing the one that heightens the risk. It’s also rich in fiber for controlled weight gain and bloating, and calcium for stronger bones.
- Berries – Rich in natural sweetness, berries reduce the risk for heart disease, reduce inflammation and fight fat. They improve skin health and glow. Serve yours with nuts for a healthy snack or oats for a nutritious breakfast.
- Leafy greens – Vegetables are rich in vitamins B, magnesium, fiber, calcium, and potassium for enhanced longevity. Vitamins B and fiber control weight gain while potassium and calcium boost muscle and bone health. Vitamins B and magnesium control your mood and energy levels.
- Eggs – Rich in iron for blood replenishment, vitamin D for stronger bones, and protein. It lowers your risk for heart disease and obesity, and reduces the levels of cholesterol in blood.
- Yogurt – Dairy products are rich in vitamin D, calcium and proteins to help enhance sleep quality. Studies reveal that yogurt can reduce the onset of early menopause and related symptoms. The good bacteria in yogurt, probiotics, improves gut health for improved immunity, better digestion and skin.
- Chicken – Provides the protein you need to replenish bone strength and muscle mass. It contains low levels of saturated fat that’s associated with increased risk for diabetes, obesity, heart conditions, and high cholesterols if consumed in high amounts.
- Soy – Contains compounds known as phytoestrogen acting as weak forms of estrogen in the body. It improves bone health and reduces symptoms of menopause. According to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, soy effectively reduces the risk for breast cancer, including tumor cell growth and recurrence. Opt for soy-based dairy, tofu, edamame, and tempeh options instead of processed soy variations.
- Green tea – Controls weight gain, improves heart health, fosters longevity, and reduces the risk for inflammation and various cancers. Unlike regular green tea, Matcha, finely-ground powder, is rich in antioxidants.
- Oatmeal – This affordable health food prevents weight gain, high cholesterol, constipation, diabetes, and inflammation. This explains why it’s the breakfast of champions for millions worldwide. The healthy carb energizes and can be taken with other foods such as flax, berries and yogurt.
- Flax – Packed with fiber, omega-3s, vitamin B, and phytoestrogens, flax seeds reduce symptoms of menopause and enhance the quality of life after being consumed for at least three months. It also reduces hot flashes.
- Take supplements
Supplement your diet with supplements such as vitamins B and D, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants to boost your health. The right supplements can help manage menopausal symptoms and push you through the transition.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements support bone health to prevent osteoporosis.
- Quit smoking
Smoking increases menopausal women’s risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and worsens hot flashes. It can also cause complications if taken alongside medication such as hormone therapy.
Quit smoking to ease menopausal symptoms, prevent early menopause, and enhance your general quality of life.
Menopause is a temporary state that you can easily overcome with the right tips and course of action. An exercise routine, a healthy diet, and lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms of menopause, sleep better and enjoy improved quality of life.