It is natural for most women to enter the beginning phases of menopause in their 40s or 50s. Women might begin to notice the pattern of their periods changing, experience hot flashes, feel more irritable, and experience certain physical and emotional changes. Some may wonder if these changes are normal, and many are confused about how to manage their symptoms. Menopause is a normal transition that women go through. It marks the beginning of a new phase in a woman’s life, and each woman experiences menopause differently. While some women may feel unhappy about their changing bodies or simply about growing older, others embrace this new stage of their life. Positive aspects include an end to the uncertainty and obligation of a monthly period, as well as intimacy without the possibility of pregnancy. Menopause is a perfectly normal time of life and is now discussed more openly than ever.
Menopause itself can cause:
- Weight gain - through bloating is a common menopausal symptom. On average, a woman could gain 12 to 15 pounds during this phase of life.
- Cardiovascular disease-when estrogen levels go down, the risk of cardiovascular disease goes up.
- Urinary incontinence - tissues within the vagina and urethra can lose their elasticity causing incontinence.
- Thinning bones - bones may become weaker and more likely to break. This condition is known as osteoporosis.
Tips to help minimize discomfort during menopause:
- Avoid hot and spicy foods
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Relax with meditation exercises like yoga to relieve stress and mood swings
- Maintain a cool environment
- Wear loose, light, cotton pajamas
- Keep a glass of ice water next to the bed at night
- Store an extra towel or pillow case next to the bed to help deal with night sweats
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce stress
As women go through menopause they should discuss treatment options with their doctor.