Coping With the Symptoms of Menopause

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Not all women experience menopause in the same way. For some, menopause can bring on an array of uncomfortable symptoms. Others may experience few discomforts and are happy to no longer have periods.

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This handout has been prepared to help you manage the most common changes of menopause. For more information, ask your women's health physician for additional resources.

Relieving hot flashes

  • Identify and avoid your hot flash "triggers." Common triggers include stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, heat and cigarette smoke.
  • Keep the bedroom cool. Use fans during the day. Wear light layers of clothing.
  • Try deep, slow abdominal breathing (6 to 8 breaths per minute). Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening and at the onset of hot flashes.
  • Exercise daily. Walking, swimming, dancing and bicycling are good choices.
  • Try taking vitamin E supplements (400 international units [IUs] twice a day) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) at bedtime. Note : Do not take ibuprofen and aspirin together.
  • Add soy protein (40 to 60 mg) to your diet daily.

Relieving insomnia

  • Keep the bedroom cool to prevent night sweats.
  • Avoid using sleeping pills.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol at night.
  • Take a warm bath or shower at bedtime.
  • Eat cereal and milk products at bedtime or during the night (avoid products that contain caffeine).

Coping with mood swings, fears and depression

  • Find a self-calming skill to practice, such as yoga, meditation or slow, deep breathing.
  • Avoid tranquilizers, if possible.
  • Engage in a creative outlet that fosters a sense of achievement.
  • Stay connected with your family and community; nurture your friendships.

Relieving painful intercourse

  • Try using a vaginal water-based moisturizing lotion or lubricant during intercourse.

Preventing osteoporosis

  • Calcium can slow bone loss and may decrease fractures. Consume 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day. Good sources of calcium are calcium supplements such as Tums; fruit juices and breads; lowfat dairy products; green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach greens; almonds; and soy milk.
  • Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and stimulates bone formation. Consume 400 to 800 IUs of vitamin D a day.
  • Eat foods low in sodium, low in animal protein and low in caffeine.
  • Bone mass is built before menopause as a of exercising, diet and genetics. Exercises that increase bone mass make the muscles work against gravity. Walking and muscle-building exercise may reduce bone loss and fractures and improve balance.

Preventing heart disease

  • Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, including soy food. Limit salt, cholesterol and fat, especially animal fat.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise over the course of each day. Many activities increase the heart rate, including gardening, walking, dancing and aerobic exercises. The activity period does not need to be continuous.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Follow your health care provider's instructions for controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.
  • Take a vitamin supplement. Choose one that contains antioxidants, including vitamins E and C.
  • Take one baby aspirin daily, if approved by your physician. Note : Do not take ibuprofen and aspirin together.

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