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Menopause - Menopause: five self-help tips

NHS ChoicesFeature

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The menopause can make you feel as if you're not in control of your own body, but there are ways to ease the symptoms.

Keep cool

Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of the menopause. They're caused by a malfunction in the body's normal methods of temperature control. They can occur even before your periods have stopped but are most common in the first year after the last period.

To ease hot flushes and night sweats:

  • Wear lighter clothing.
  • Keep your bedroom cool at night.
  • Do more exercise
  • Try to reduce your stress levels.
  • Avoid potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol.

Try to relax

Psychological symptoms can include feeling down, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, tiredness and lack of energy. However, this time in a woman's life can also be stressful due to parents' ageing and loss of independence, death of parents or relatives, divorce or 'empty nest syndrome' when children leave home. Therefore, it can be difficult to tell if your psychological symptoms are a direct result of the menopause.

The following tactics can help improve your mood:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • regular exercise
  • relaxation exercises such as yoga

Try these relaxation tips.

Sleep well

Restful sleep will help you cope with night sweats and other menopausal symptoms. Improve your sleep by:

  • avoiding exercise within two hours of bedtime
  • going to bed at the same time every night

Here's 10 ways to get a better night's sleep.

Get some exercise

There's evidence that women who are more active tend to suffer less from the symptoms of the menopause. Exercise is important not only for the relief of short-term symptoms but also to protect your body from heart disease and osteoporosis.

Exercise will help keep your bones and the muscles that support them strong. It will also increase your flexibility and mobility, which will in turn improve your balance.

The benefits of exercise in preventing bone loss and fractures are well known. It is thought that the best kind of activities are aerobic, sustained and regular. Brisk walking about three times a week is a cheap, easy and great way to start exercising.

Read more about how walking is good for your health.

Stop smoking

Women who smoke have an earlier menopause than non-smokers, have worse flushes and often don't respond as well to tablet forms of HRT. It's never too late to stop smoking.

Find out how the NHS can help you stop smoking.

Medical Review: September 17, 2012

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