Five steps to take the pause out of menopausePosted on: 18 July 2017 by 50connect editorial
Some women sail through the menopause, but for lots of women, ‘the change’ can be tough, physically and emotionally but there are solutions to the symptoms.
According to research, 13 million women are going through or in menopause in the UK. From weight gain to hair loss and vaginal dryness, there are many ways to manage the symptoms.
“For lots of women ‘the change’ can be tough, physically and emotionally, but it doesn’t have to put your life on hold. Here are my top tips to help you take the ‘pause’ out of menopause and live your life to the fullest.” Dr Louise Newson, menopause exert & ambassador for the MonaLisa Touch™ campaign.
Hormonal changes can make mood swings one of the most commonly experienced symptoms of the menopause. They are often frustrating, especially if the mood swings are out of control, but the good news is that positive lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and making some time to relax can help. Aqua aerobics and swimming are great gentle exercises for boosting our physical health as well as our mental health, with research showing that those women who exercise regularly tend to live longer and have better moods than people who don’t exercise. Diet also plays an important role in your mood. Opt for vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates such as beans, brown rice, nuts and seeds which are a great source of essential nutrients to keep your body healthy and balanced. Studies show that foods such as bananas, mangoes, eggs, milk and sunflower seeds, can also help produce serotonin; the feel-good chemical in your brain that can help to assist in boosting mood.
Research shows that three out of every four menopausal women have hot flushes. Whilst triggers can vary from woman to woman, avoiding triggers such as spicy food, alcohol, smoking and stress can help to control them. Sipping cold water throughout the day and keeping a cooling gel or spray on hand can also provide some relief. In warmer weather, washing your hands in cold water and wearing light, breathable clothing can also help to leave your feeling cooler and more comfortable. The latest advice shows that for most women, the benefits of taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) outweigh the risks – and as hot flushes are caused by low oestrogen levels in the body, taking HRT restores these low oestrogen levels and can stop hot flushes completely.
Fatigue and Difficulty Sleeping
A good night’s sleep is vital for refreshing and repairing our mind and body. One of the main causes of fatigue during menopause is changing hormone levels that are involved in regulating energy levels in the body. Physical symptoms such as night sweats can give rise to sporadic sleep or insomnia so it’s important to adapt your sleep routine to help promote the best night’s sleep.
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed such as meditation and gentle breathing exercises can help to your body feel ready for sleep. Inhaling soothing aromatherapy scents like lavender or camomile can also help you to unwind before bedtime – try a pillow spray or a warm bath scented with a few drops of lavender oil before bedtime. Developing a good sleep routine can also aid better sleep. Try going to bed and waking around the same time every day to get your body used to a regular sleep pattern, and swapping teas and coffees for herbal infusions like mint, ginger or lemon after 7 pm will help to get your off to sleep more easily.
Dryness & Painful Sex
Many of my female menopausal patients are very comfortable talking to me about their hot flushes, night sweats and even their lack of libido. However, even the women I have known for years are often reserved when talking about vaginal dryness! New research led by women’s intimate health specialists, MonaLisa Touch® reveals many women are worried about the long-term impact vaginal dryness could have on their relationship, with half of women reporting to have less sex because of the condition, and 1 in 4 have stopped altogether due to vaginal pain and discomfort. It can also cause problems among those who are not sexually active. I have patients who have had to change their lifestyles due to their symptoms - women who can no longer cycle their bikes, have had to stop running and do other exercises, and others who have to be careful how they sit down as they have so much discomfort. It’s important for all women to maintain the quality of life that they had before the menopause, and understand that these symptoms can be treated. There are various safe, effective treatments available for vaginal dryness such as vaginal moisturisers and topical oestrogen creams that can provide relief. Longer lasting solutions are also now available, including laser treatments which are a proven, effective solution for vaginal dryness symptoms, eliminating troublesome itching, irritation, and pain.
During menopause women may notice hair loss or thinning due to changing hormone levels which can affect the growth and shedding cycle of hair. The effects are very rarely permanent and hair should regrow again. However, there are also things you can do to promote a healthy scalp:
- Use a gentle shampoo and avoid brushing hair whilst it’s wet as that’s when hair is the most delicate
- Dry your hair naturally or use the lowest and coolest air setting on your hair dryer. Avoiding hot styling tools can help to prevent drying out the hair, which can cause brittleness, making it more likely to fall out.
- Taking the right balance of HRT can improve hair growth and many women notice their hair becomes thicker and glossier.
- Certain foods that can boost hair quality are those rich in protein, iron and vitamin B. These can all be found in red meat, poultry, oily fish, wholegrains, and dark green leafy vegetables such a spinach. Vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits and bell peppers are also beneficial for helping the absorption of iron, essential for healthy hair growth.
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