Health And Wellness

3 Lifestyle Changes You Need To Make To Ease The Most Common Symptoms Of Menopause

Photo: Edward Cisneros via unsplash
Important Women's Health Tips For Dealing With Menopause Symptoms

When it comes to women's health, each woman displays menopause symptoms in different ways — some for over a relatively short time span and others for ten years or more.

As a general rule of thumb, some have suggested that a woman's mother can be a benchmark to help determine one's own menopause symptom timeline, but even sisters often display wildly varying symptoms, both in overall length and individual bout severity.

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Menopause symptoms are naturally occurring biological events and part of the natural progression in every woman's life that comes with aging.

Knowledge of the symptoms of menopause in advance will help to ease the transition period once you reach menopause age. In itself, knowledge will not ease the menopause signs and symptoms but will help to prepare one mentally for the ordeal.

With knowledge, you can implement changes to your diet and exercise, as well as take part in, as well as appropriate menopause relief plans in advance of the onset of the symptoms.

Individual menopause symptoms are frequently categorized as either mild, moderate, severe, or very severe. About 15 percent of American and European women display symptoms in the "very severe" category.

Fortunately, a significant percentage of women endure only mild to moderate symptoms. Many women elect to control these symptoms themselves without resorting to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or bio-identicals.

Knowing about the symptom triggers or catalysts, coupled with specifically designed diet and exercise plans and an attuned vitamin and mineral regimen can go a long way to ameliorating menopause symptoms.

Early changes to diet and exercise are especially important. One of the chronic manifestations associated with menopause is weight gain, especially around the middle.

Research indicates that belly fat (as it is sometimes unflatteringly referred to) is one of the more common menopause symptoms and directly linked to decreased estrogen levels and hormone imbalance.

Early modification of diet and exercise can help to abate weight gain around the waist in post-menopausal women. This is significant for a number of health-related reasons.

Women who gain weight above the hips are put at greater risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. Pre-menopausal women frequently have a problem with weight gain in the hips, thighs, and buttocks.

However, following menopause, weight gain frequently shifts to the waist. Again, this shift has been directly attributed to decreased estrogen levels and hormonal imbalances.

Maintaining the same waist measurements as prior to the onset of menopause is difficult if one is unfortunate enough to display another common menopause symptom — food and/or beverage cravings.

Food and beverage cravings during menopause are especially insidious as they tend to override one's own natural inclination to limit or avoid personal food or beverage favorites. These cravings are directly related to hormone changes and reduced estrogen levels.

Women experiencing these cravings may feel as though they have little or no control over these guilty pleasure indulgences. If more than 5 percent of weight gain can be attributed to menopausal food cravings, corrective measures should be considered.

Hot flashes and night sweats can be partially negated with the application of appropriate lightweight clothing and bedding. Layers are better than single heavy layers. Wicking wear has come a long way in the past decade as new non-absorbent fabrics have become available to manufacturers.

Hot flashes and night sweats are the most immediately irritating of menopause symptoms.

Hot flashes have been described as a warm-to-hot internal burning sensation that builds quickly to intensity in the face, neck, and upper chest area. Individual bouts can last for upward to 20 minutes and can be displayed as frequently as every one to two hours.

Night sweats can be even more debilitating long term as they can adversely affect sleep patterns. Women experiencing moderate to severe night sweats find it very difficult to get a full, restful night's sleep.

A minimum of six to eight hours of uninterrupted REM sleep is necessary to achieve a good night's sleep. Waking up every hour to two hours with night sweat bouts is not conducive to this process.

Hot flashes and night sweats have been directly linked to hormone imbalance and reduced estrogen levels.

Other common symptoms and signs of menopause include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Loss of or decreased libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss or gain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss or lapses
  • Dizziness
  • Incontinence
  • Bloating
  • Increased allergy sensitivity
  • Brittle or easily broken fingernails
  • Changes in body odor
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Breast tenderness
  • Migraines
  • Aching joints
  • Burning sensation in mouth or tongue or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Electric shocks
  • Digestive irregularities
  • Gum problems like bleeding gums
  • Muscle tensions
  • Itchy skin
  • Tingling extremities

RELATED: The One Thing Really Makes Menopause Unbearable (And How To Stop It)

Now that you're aware of the symptoms of menopause, take care of your health by making these 3 lifestyle changes.

1. Exercise regularly

There is currently not enough evidence to confirm whether exercise is effective for treating hot flashes and night sweats.

However, there is evidence to support other benefits of regular exercise. These include improved energy and metabolism, healthier joints and bones, decreased stress, and better sleep.

For example, one study found that exercising 3 hours per week for 1 year improved physical and mental health and overall quality of life in a group of menopausal women.

Regular exercise is also associated with better health and protection against diseases and conditions including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Exercise may not give you complete menopause relief but you can still benefit from it.

2. Decrease the stress that can intensify symptoms

Anti-depressants are often prescribed for women with perimenopause and menopause symptoms who report feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed during the menopause transition.

In most cases, antidepressants are not the right answer for menopause symptom relief, and will not resolve the source of your symptoms.

Stress is often behind additionally hidden imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters that can affect mood as well as cognitive function. Too much stress is also linked to symptoms such as hot flashes and low libido.

The stress in your life makes prioritizing self-care especially important. One of the most effective, easy and cost-free ways to reduce stress is deep breathing.

3. Change your diet

Watch what you eat. You should avoid caffeine, sodas, junk foods, and sweets.

Decrease the amount of commercially raised pork, chicken, and beef that you consume because they could contain a high amount of saturated fats and decrease the body's ability to metabolize estrogen.

Instead, try incorporating these foods into your daily diet.

Black Cohosh: This is a very popular widely used herb that's taken to treat menopause symptoms. It has been proven to achieve positive results relieving night sweats, vaginal dryness, depression and anxiety attacks.

Soy: Estrogen production is lacking during menopause. A group of chemical compounds found in soybeans is similar to the estrogen produced in the body. These compounds are called phytoestrogens and eating foods rich in these compounds helps alleviate low estrogen production in the body.

Lime: Even though this fruit is considered acidic, when the body breaks it down, it has an alkalizing effect on the body. This lowers the bodies Ph, protecting us, and burning fat. Limes give that "sweet" taste to foods.

Almonds: A fabulous snack! The monounsaturated fats and vitamin E will help lower your LDL cholesterol. It's a healthy substitute for people with wheat allergies or diabetics. And it helps clear your complexion.

Wild-caught salmon: So much protein, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. These fish are full of good cholesterol, and the proteins and omega-3 fatty acids are used in your fat-burning furnace.

Fresh spinach: Loaded with antioxidants. A strong iron source, vitamins A, E, C, and K, and even those great omega-3 fatty acids. Truly a "super" veggie.

Asparagus: Very low in calories and so high in antioxidants. With the nutrient density and wonderful source of fiber, asparagus aids in your digestion, and gives you a natural protein that helps build long, lean muscle.

Water: During menopause, women often experience dryness. This is likely caused by a decrease in estrogen levels. Drinking 8–12 glasses of water a day can help with these symptoms. It can also reduce the bloating that can occur with hormonal changes. In addition, water can help prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss by helping you feel full and increasing metabolism slightly. Drinking 17 oz (500 ml) of water, 30 minutes before a meal may lead you to consume 13 percent fewer calories during the meal.

Menopause is a stage in which a woman's menstruation ceases for one year and ends her reproductive cycle. This is a natural condition in a woman's life and happens to every woman in her late 30's to early 50's.

The menopausal stage occurs under the influence of hormonal changes in the body and there are chemical and physical changes happen during menopause.

Menopause is not a disease but a completely natural part of aging that starts as soon as the ovaries slow up the production of hormones and eggs to be fertilized.

So, fear not! You can get through this!

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Donna Begg is an expert editor, a mentor, analyst, and researcher.