Coping with Menopause

Midlife brings many changes for women, and menopause is described as this transition. During menopause, the body is resetting itself for the oncoming years, and this results in a variety of fluctuations in mood and emotional balance, weight, hormone levels, cardiovascular health, and the increased risk or symptoms of osteoporosis. Coping with menopause may be difficult, but there are some effective ways so to help alleviate the symptoms and general day-to-day changes. Since different women experience menopause in different ways, coping strategies need to be tailored to the individual.

During menopause, there is a significant reduction in estrogen and progesterone; some women may fare well from replacement therapy, while others may choose to forego it and choose from more natural, alternative options instead. Coping with menopause successfully is possible! Common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, depression, and increased risks of osteoporosis and heart disease. Despite these symptoms, many women will find the following coping strategies to be effective:

Hot flashes:
The most common triggers of hot flashes include heat, caffeine, alcohol, tight clothing, and cigarette smoke. Hot flashes can be uncomfortable and result in increased anxiety, and a predisposition of panic attacks. To reduce the occurrence of hot flashes, it’s important to keep the room cool and wear light layers of clothing. Slow and deep breathing is recommended, and taking a ‘time out’ once in while may be appropriate. Daily exercise and vitamin E supplements may also help in reducing their frequency. Light and longer length exercises including walking, swimming, and light jogging early in the morning may help to balance your body’s cycle and reduce stress. Yoga is also a great choice, as it encourages deep and prolonged breathing. Still, drug recommendations include Effexor (venlafaxine), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Neurontin (gabapentin). Do remember that these drugs still have all side-effects and possibly additional reactions associated with them.

Coping with mood swings, and depression:
Coping with mood swings and depression during menopause may seem overwhelming. There will be frequent episodes of misunderstandings, fits of anger, and extreme highs and lows. However, practicing yoga or meditation regularly can help calm down most women during this time. Finding a creative outlet may also help, as this reduces the chances of harboring emotions and oncoming mental conflicts. It’s also important or women to find nurturing and positive relationships, as depression can often be a result of loneliness, isolation, and boredom.

Preventing osteoporosis
Reducing bone loss should be a high priority in coping with menopause, as it is imperative that women get adequate nutrition, especially vitamin D and calcium. Extra supplementation is encouraged, but it can be added to the diet by eating dairy products, green leafy vegetables, almonds, and drinking soy milk. Soy milk is available in a variety of flavors and choices today, so do take advantage of your options. Eating a balanced diet that limits sodium and excess fat will benefit your joints and muscles, and help reduce the risk of bone fractures and overall bone loss. Finally, muscle-building exercises including a light weight workout regiment, will help encourage strength and overall vitality.

Insomnia:
If left unattended for a period of time, insomnia can take the energy out of your day. Insomnia is best treated naturally, and can be overcome by:

  • drinking a chamomile tea before bedtime,
  • keeping the bedroom cool and at a comfortable temperature
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol at night.
  • drinking milk. This may help some women, and the extra calcium will also boost your daily diet.
  • taking a warm bath or shower will help bring relief to tense and sore muscles.

Preventing heart disease:
Heart disease is found at a greater rate amongst menopausal women, as the risk factor increases with a poor diet, smoking, or an unhealthy weight. Eating a balanced diet that is low in animal fat will help tremendously, and a regular exercise regiment, even for 30-40 minutes per day, will help in many ways. Replacing animal protein with soy protein is a smart choice, as it will help reduce the chances of excess fat and is easier for digestion. Be sure to follow your doctor or physician’s recommendations for controlling high blood pressure, and you will be better able to cope with menopause-related heart disease issues.

Coping with menopause does not have to be difficult, but it does take some time to approach it with a positive attitude. Many women find that family support and a commitment to their health and well-being benefit them greatly; they may also find some unique and ‘untapped’ talents in the process! Coping styles can range from creativity, mentoring, increased exercise schedules, and overall dietary changes. Whatever your approach may be, be sure to balance your days and tailor your needs to what works best for you. If you feel that hormone replacement therapy or prescription drugs are your only option, do check with your physician first and learn all of the potential repercussions and side-effects. Coping with menopause successfully will lead to an improved sense of well-being in later years, along with an improvement in additional life changes.

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