10 Easy Tips to Improve Symptoms of Menopause
Everyone’s heard the expression - “knowledge is power.” This could not be truer than when applied to the symptoms of menopause. The simple answer to what causes menopause is ‘age’. The average age of a woman reaching menopause is 51. However, a woman can reach menopause in her 40’s (or earlier), or well into her 50’s. There are many determining factors that establish when a woman will reach menopause. Many of these have to do with genetics, culture, food, exercise, and general health.
The important point is that this happens to every woman who reaches menopause. The definition of menopause is: “the age a woman reaches when, for the previous 12 consecutive months she has not experienced a period.”
This is a natural course of events for all women. It is not a disease nor is it something that can be avoided. What it does mean is that when a woman reaches menopause, she is past childbearing years.
Unfortunately, many women also experience new and unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Understanding the biological changes that occur at (or prior to) menopause (in advance) can help to prepare one mentally for these changes and accompanying symptoms.Triggers
Three of the most noted symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Night sweats and their day-time equivalent – hot flashes, have well-defined triggers associated with them. It must be noted (especially in severe cases) that hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings can occur, no matter what preventative measures are taken. This being said, there are certain documented ‘trigger’ which can cause the onset of symptoms of menopause. Knowing what triggers to look for can help to avoid some symptoms, or to lessen the severity or duration of the symptom.
Among the most common triggers are stress, wearing too warm clothing, heavy bed coverings, certain foods, alcohol use, smoking, warm or humid climate, lack of exercise, and lack of essential vitamins and minerals.
Anyone first experiencing hot flashes or night sweats may try to use a wash cloth soaked in tap water as a means of cooling off. Many women find that the chest area, neck and face are among the warmest areas. A damp cloth may be the handiest and most readily available household item that can offer a modicum of relief.
Individual bouts may last for 20 minutes or more, which means that a wash cloth may have to be re-soaked several times. Unfortunately, wash cloths are not the best cooling device for night sweats as they are inherently damp and will wet the bedding and sleepwear.
Personal cooling devices, available on the internet and at some retail stores (though sizes and selection might be limited at retail), provide a better alternative. These come in various shapes and sizes and can be adjusted to fit around the neck, chest, wrists, ankles, or applied directly to warm areas of the body.
They all have one thing in common and that is that the active part of the appliance is a form fitting gel pack that can be kept in the freezer until needed. The gel packs come in many sizes and are made to be used with moisture resistant, tailored fabric appliances that can be fastened with “hook & loop” panels and adjusted for individual size, comfort and weight.
Electric or battery operated portable fans are also popular. However, the really effective ones are very loud and might awaken your sleep partner and/or other family members. One of our favorite portable fans (with its own recharging stand) runs (at high speed) at 30 miles per hour. It is very powerful and can cool off someone experiencing very hot flashes or night sweats. The down side is that it almost as noisy as a leaf blower.
What you wear is most dependent on the occasion, time of year, temperature, whether you plan on being inside or out of doors, and the severity of the anticipated hot flashes.
Overall, it is best to wear layered clothing, so at the onset of a hot flash, some clothing can be removed. Loose fitting clothing is better than tight fitting clothing. Light weight wicking materials are also a big plus. Designers have (in recent years) broadened their offerings so that style no longer has to take a back seat to comfort.
Almost the same rules apply to sleepwear. Loose fitting spaghetti strap tops (especially those made from wicking materials) are the best, and they work great with the aforementioned personal cooling devices. Anything cotton or flannel are not the best choices. Camisoles, sleeveless undershirts, and voluminous T’s work best. Bottoms can be short (or long) but preferably with an easy fitting elastic waist with lots of room for better air circulation.
The bedding is just as important a choice and needs to take into consideration your comfort as well as that of your sleep partner. Layered is best and a thin sheet in direct contact with the body. When a night sweat episode begins, it is useful to be able to able to quickly remove the bulk of the bed coverings while still retaining a light weight sheet. Heavy quilts, comforters, and bed spreads are out. “Breathable” fabrics are best.
Some adjustments to the diet may be necessary in order to achieve some relief from symptoms of menopause. Due to the natural decline in the body’s estrogen levels, it may be necessary to modify one’s diet to insure that the proper balance of protein and vegetables exist. Added protein is frequently advised. If possible, certain foods should be avoided, especially hot and spicy foods, wine, and beer (or any alcoholic beverage).
Many women notice that they begin to have cravings for certain foods at about the same time that symptoms of menopause present themselves. Chocolate, cheese, sour tasting foods, wine, etc., are among the most frequently mentioned. Any “craving” food or beverage needs to be closely monitored as they can easily put on additional pounds at a time when the body’s natural metabolism is slowing down. Excess weight only serves to acerbate the already uncomfortable symptoms of menopause.
When you eat is also important. Starving oneself through the day and then consuming most of the day’s calories close to bed-time is not a good idea for someone who routinely suffers from night sweat bouts.
Obviously, naturally occurring vitamins (from the foods we eat) are essential for overall good health. This is especially true during menopause. However, certain foods may no longer ‘agree’ with us and the metabolism is slowing down. Vitamin supplements may be necessary to insure that the proper daily allowance (right for the individual) is maintained.
Adequate levels of vitamin C, B-6, B-12, folic acid, vitamin D, and vitamin E are all essential to good menopause health.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals to maintain, both prior to and following menopause. While calcium absorption may vary from one person to the next due to our genetic makeup, illness and disease can also play a role in how much calcium the body is able to retain. On average, only about 20-40% of the calcium we absorb through food sources is retained, and this amount decreases with age. Lack of exercise, medicines, drugs, smoking, caffeine and stress levels also impact the amount of calcium that we are able to retain.
Excellent food sources of calcium include, milk and milk products, sardines, and salmon. Other essential minerals for good menopause health include magnesium, selenium, manganese, and phosphorus. If the diet does not produce enough of these essential minerals, supplements may be necessary.
Almost nothing is as important to maintaining good menopause health, as exercise. Unfortunately, strenuous cardiac aerobics can be a precursor to hot flashes. Strenuous exercise does however, do wonders for mood swings. Some sort of modified weight resistance training might be best, as this form of exercise can produce positive cardio effects and is an excellent form of exercise to help maintain healthy bones and joints.
Many women are looking at natural, plant-based alternatives to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) as a safe and effective means of managing symptoms of menopasue.
The active ingredients in FemFlax® have been clinically tested and proven safe and effective at managing symptoms of menopause, especially, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.