Menopause comes with several symptoms: hot flashes, increased irritability, incontinence, vaginal dryness, and disrupted sleep. While these are fairly common and normal symptoms of menopause, they are still uncomfortable and disruptive to a woman’s daily life.
Though menopause symptoms can vary from person to person, there are ways to manage them so they don’t interrupt your day-to-day activity.
Hot flashes during menopause
Hot flashes are moments in menopause when the body suddenly experiences a surge in heat, plus sweating and increased heartbeat. When the hot flash passes, which is usually between one to five minutes, the body will feel a sudden chill. Hot flashes cannot be controlled and natural herbal remedies should be taken only under the advice of a doctor.
However, there are some things you can do at home to regulate your body temperature during menopause. Wear layers that can be removed during a hot flash. At night, when hot flashes can disrupt sleep (known as “night sweats”), try sleeping under layers of covers that can be removed, wear light sleepwear, use a cooling pillow, and keep a ceiling or electric fan on to circulate cool air. Some people find it helpful to keep an ice pack at their feet and under their pillow.
Incontinence in menopause
Accidental urination, or incontinence, is a common complaint among women experiencing menopause. One way to manage incontinence is to avoid drinks and food that irritate the bladder lining. This includes coffee and other high-caffeine beverages and acidic foods such as oranges, tomatoes, and lemons.
Another method is to practice Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor. Hold your muscles as if you are stopping the flow of urine, and then release. Each hold should be about five seconds long. Repeat several times and practice at least three times a day. If your incontinence continues to persist or is severe, visit your doctor for other treatment options.
Lower estrogen levels from menopause can cause the vagina to atrophy, reducing its lubrication and elasticity. As a result, sexual intercourse can become extremely painful, causing tearing and bleeding. Women experiencing vaginal dryness also have an increased risk of contracting a vaginal infection.
Women with vaginal dryness can try various water-based lubricants to decrease friction, or use vaginal moisturizers. Moisturizers tend to last longer than lubricants and may help those with mild dryness. Those experiencing more dryness or who don’t want to deal with the day-to-day of moisturizers and lubricants can try the MonaLisa Touch laser therapy, a novel new procedure involving three separate treatments, each one lasting only five minutes. Patients experiencing menopause who have turned to MonaLisa Touch have reported life-changing results after suffering from vaginal dryness.
Mood swings in menopause
Many women experience changes in mood and irritability when they transition into menopause. These mood changes are caused by decreasing hormone levels and may be worse in women who experience anxiety about this process.
Doctors recommend basic stress-relieving exercises to calm the mind and body such as meditation, massage, deep breathing, and yoga. Spend more time outside in the daylight to boost your mood and relax! Also, indulging in your favorite activity or pampering yourself can make you feel better as you go through menopause.
If your mood continues to be negative and you experience depression, speak to your healthcare provider about seeing a therapist or receiving antidepressants.
Still having trouble with your menopause symptoms or have questions about how to manage the transition? Make an appointment to talk to your doctor about it.