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.
Hot flushes and night sweats
These 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 before the periods have stopped and are common in the first year after the last period.
To ease hot flushes and night sweats:
- Do regular exercise.
- Wear lighter clothing.
- Keep your bedroom cool at night.
- Try to reduce your stress levels.
- Avoid potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol.
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, experts cannot be sure that these 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
Restful sleep will help you cope with other menopausal symptoms. However, night sweats and psychological issues can disturb some women's sleep. Improve your sleep by:
- avoiding exercise within two hours of bedtime
- going to bed at the same time every night
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.
Walking increases the strength of the spine and hips, both of which are vulnerable to breakages if you develop osteoporosis. Watch the 10,000 steps challenge video to get started.
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.