The menopause is a physiological event that occurs in all women who reach midlife. Symptoms shown to be associated with estrogen deficiency after menopause are hot flashes or flushes and night sweats, insomnia and vaginal dryness.
However, many other symptoms and conditions (irregular menstrual bleeding, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, dyslipidemia, depressed mood, irritability, headache, forgetfulness, dizziness, deterioration in postural balance, palpitations, dry eyes, dry mouth, reduced skin elasticity, restless legs, and muscle and joint pain) have also been implicated as associated with the menopause but are not necessarily correlated to oestrogen levels. It is not necessary that every woman will have all of the above mentioned symptoms during their menopause, as it varies from person to person.
How to stay healthy during menopause to avoid its symptoms:
Before deciding on any form of treatment, discuss with your doctor about your options and the risks and benefits involved with each. Nutrition, Exercise and a routine healthcare altogether will help to deal with menopausal symptoms.
- Maintain sufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D
- Hormone therapy, low-dose antidepressants, and Gabapentin have been shown to decrease menopausal hot flashes
- Strengthen your pelvic floor – pelvic floor muscle exercises, called Kegel exercises, can improve some forms of urinary incontinence.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and that limits saturated fats, oils and sugars. Aim for 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium and 800 international units of vitamin D a day.
- Optimize your sleep – avoid caffeine and engage in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation, to help with sleep problems.
- Decrease vaginal discomfort – Using water based vaginal lubricants or moisturizers. Staying sexually active also helps.
- Avoid smoking – smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer and a range of other health problems. It may also increase hot flashes which can lead to earlier menopause.
- Exercise regularly – get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days to protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging.
- Schedule regular checkups – talk with your doctor about how often you should have mammograms, Pap tests, lipid level (cholesterol and triglyceride) testing and other screening tests.
Dr. Y. Alekhya