Menopause can be a difficult time in the lives of many women because the experience can come with both physical and emotional changes that are exacerbated by fluctuating hormones. As you approach menopause, there are ways to make the transition easier.
Deal With The Emotional Aspects
When the topic of menopause is discussed, it often relates to physical symptoms, such as hot flashes or changes in libido. However, there can be a significant emotional component to menopause depending on your perspective. Some women may view menopause as an opportunity to live their life free of menstrual periods or the concerns of an unexpected pregnancy. Conversely, some women may feel sadness, depression, or even a loss of identity associated with cessation of their reproductive years.
Menopause can be especially difficult for women who experienced fertility issues or may have otherwise missed their opportunity at conceiving and carrying a child to term. Your gynecologist is your best resource for support. Not only have they helped numerous women with their concerns, but they likely know of other resources for support.
Consider Lifestyle Changes
Although making positive lifestyle changes is always good, if you are experiencing symptoms associated with menopause, you may find making lifestyle modifications can help. Before discussing hormone replacement with your doctor, make changes to your diet to determine if small changes in the types and amounts of hormones within your diet can bring enough relief to ease you through menopause.
Incorporating more phytoestrogens may reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Since many women are not candidates for hormone replacement therapy, due to their use of tobacco products, history of migraines, and/or family history of blood clots and stroke, you may be limited to alternative estrogen therapies only. You should also look at your diet for other sources of hormones, such as red meat and dairy, which may contain androgens. Although foods do not contain significant amounts of hormones, they can exacerbate hormone fluctuations. Consider replacing foods known to have more androgens with organic versions labeled hormone-free.
Although many women notice irregularities as they approach menopause, they may also have significantly heavier periods when they do menstruate. Unfortunately, this can lead to abnormally heavy and prolonged periods. Discuss any irregularities with your doctor to ensure they are attributed to changing hormones and not other reproductive conditions, such as cancer. You may need to increase nutrients, such as iron and folic acid, to help compensate for heavier bleeding. Since your periods may be extremely irregular, it is important to integrate these nutrients into your diet regularly.
Another component of your lifestyle changes should be to incorporate more exercises that can improve your overall sense of well-being. It can be difficult to cope with physical and emotional concerns when you feel overwhelmed. Taking regular walks or participating in yoga are good exercises to improve your sense of well-being.
There are numerous supplements associated with reducing menopausal symptoms. The most commonly discussed symptoms are hot flashes. Some herbal supplements used to reduce hot flashes include black cohosh, blue cohosh, and wild yam. If you are experiencing depression, St. John's Wort is a popular herbal remedy that can rival prescription medications for mild depression. For anxiety and insomnia, consider Valerian root, which can help calm you and ease you into sleep without actually making you sleepy. Similarly, melatonin is frequently used for insomnia.
When you have tried alternative methods to alleviate menopausal symptoms and they are not effective, it may be time to consider which medications are available. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a low dose of hormones to help you achieve benefits with a lower risk of side effects.
Going through menopause is a unique experience for each woman. No matter your symptoms, there are options available to make the process easier. By considering both the physical and emotional aspects of menopause and trying various treatments, you can come up with a targeted strategy for your needs. For the best results, work with an experienced gynecologist at a clinic like Central Iowa OB/Gyn Specialists, PLC.