Although everyone’s experience of the menopause is different, recent studies have revealed that 60 per cent of us have symptoms that make life difficult. Yet only one in ten of us actually seek help for them.
Taking control of your menopause symptoms doesn’t have to involve big changes or taking drugs. Instead, there are lots of simple, natural ways to make it more manageable. Give these ideas a try – they could make all the difference!
1. Take some time to relax
As the hormones in your body change during the menopause, it’s not unusual to find yourself swinging between moods or feeling a bit blue. Taking some time out for yourself to unwind could really give you the boost you need, as well as helping you get an all-important good night’s sleep.
Doing yoga or Tai Chi are both great ways to exercise and relax at the same time. Yoga has been proven to help improve the insomnia that some women experience during the menopause, too.
Top tip: A cup of calming herbal tea before bed, such as lemon or chamomile, could help settle your mood
2. Keep a diary
Work out exactly what triggers and relieves your specific symptoms. Keeping a diary of what you eat, drink and do each day, along with a few notes on how you feel, should help you spot patterns and work out solutions to your symptoms.
Drinking too much coffee and alcohol or putting yourself under pressure are known to set off hot flushes. You might also find that little tweaks to your routine such as swapping your usual bed linen for something lighter, or avoiding spicy foods, helps. Find out what works for you.
3. Plan your meals
We all know the benefits of eating a healthy, balanced diet but recent studies have shown that watching what you eat and keeping your weight down could also reduce those annoying hot flushes.
To make healthy eating (and your weekly supermarket shop) a lot easier, try compiling a meal plan at the start of each week. Fit in a good mix of fruit and vegetables each day, along with some lean cuts of meat and a couple of portions of oily fish, such as fresh tuna or salmon. Some women also find that eating foods containing soya, such as edamame beans (found near the frozen peas in supermarkets) or tofu, helps with their symptoms.
Top up your calcium levels to protect your bones post- menopause by including semi-skimmed milk and low-fat yogurt in your diet. If you don’t like dairy, oats, brown rice and pumpkin seeds are also full of calcium.
4. Give complementary therapies a try
You may not have considered acupuncture or hypnotherapy before, but many women have found them helpful for managing the menopause.
Acupuncture, which stimulates parts of your body using thin needles, could help to reduce how severe or regular your hot flushes are, as can hypnotherapy, which also gives you the chance to release any pent-up stress.
- You can find your nearest acupuncturist by calling 0208 735 0400 or visiting www.acupuncture.org.uk.
- Find your local hypnotherapist by calling 0845 544 0788 or visit www.hypnotherapists.org.uk.
5. Get active
A brisk walk or a swim several times a week could help you fight off symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings and weight gain. Staying active is great for your future health too because it keeps your bones healthy, helping to reduce the risk of osteoporosis post-menopause.
If you don’t have much time to dedicate to exercise, just doing a spot of housework or gardening will make a difference – anything that has you on your feet and moving around energetically.
6. Stay on your toes
If you’ve been feeling tearful or a bit down, try a new challenge and break out of your daily routine. Doing the same old things could make you feel even worse. Sign up for an evening class or take up a hobby.
According to US researchers, there is some evidence that spending a day with your grandchildren could reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and poor sleep. Playing with little ones releases the nurturing hormone, oxytocin, which also regulates your body’s thermostat.
7. Consider natural supplements
During the menopause, it can be tricky to think about protecting your long-term health while managing your immediate symptoms. But taking Promensil Red Clover could help with hot flushes as well as keeping your heart and bones healthy.
Promensil Post Menopause (rrp £20.99/30 tablets) contains isoflavones from red clover as well as calcium and Vitamin D to boost your overall fitness. Available from Boots, and Holland & Barrett. For more details, visit www.promensil.co.uk.
What about HRT?
The latest research from Oxford University found that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for 5 years from the age of 50 could cause one extra woman in every 1000 HRT users to get ovarian cancer. The study also found that taking HRT increases your risk of ovarian cancer by 40 per cent. When you stop taking HRT your risk decreases again. When it comes to deciding whether or not you should take HRT it's important that you and your GP look at your particular risk. If you have a BRAC gene or a family history of breast or ovarian cancers then your risk will be different to that of a woman without a family history. You need to weigh up the benefits to your day to day life against the possibility of long term health problems.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.