The menopause or climacteric period is the period of hormonal change in women before, during and after a woman’s final menstrual cycle. These changes mark the beginning of a new phase in a woman’s life, which is accompanied by psychological and physical changes. The female menopause can be an exciting and creative stage in a woman’s life. It’s just a matter of dealing appropriately with the symptoms of the menopause and making use of certain aids that may help.
Help for the symptoms of the menopause
Around a third of all women don’t suffer any symptoms at all during the menopause and are only aware of the change as their monthly periods gradually disappear. A third notice only mild symptoms, whilst another third suffer from very severe symptoms during the menopause.
Whilst some women simply wait for the symptoms of the menopause to pass – which will happen eventually, since the female menopause only lasts a finite length of time – others try to find some relief for their symptoms. It is important to remember that the female menopause is not an illness. The physical changes go hand in hand with the changing levels of hormones and are completely natural. However, there are a few tips which can help women to cope better with the symptoms of the menopause and provide some relief. A range of different approaches can help – such as exercising more, adapting your diet and even using relaxation techniques:
- Regular exercise and physical activity: Physical activity that fits in with your personal situation and is adapted to your own body is the best medicine. Exercising outdoors in the fresh air provides a distraction and can help to combat mood swings and depression. Physical activity also helps with relaxation. Sport and exercise also help to promote physical strength, flexibility and can strengthen your bones. And since a woman’s metabolism also changes during the female menopause, regular exercise and physical activity can help you keep your weight under control and feel good.
- Smoking: Smoking accelerates the ageing process and statistics show that smokers start the menopause earlier. Stopping smoking (as early as possible) will lower the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and other age-related diseases. Smoking dries out the skin, and since a woman’s skin becomes drier and loses its elasticity during the menopause, these symptoms are more pronounced in smokers than in non-smokers. Any women who still smoke when the menopause starts are strongly advised to give up smoking.
- Diet: Women should make sure they get a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins, enough fat, lots of protein and complex carbohydrates. It’s also important not to eat too late to avoid placing excessive strain on the body’s digestive system. Eating too late can also result in problems getting to sleep, which isn’t a good idea considering the difficulties many women already have sleeping. It’s also important to make sure you drink plenty. Women should drink around 1.5 litres of mineral water with a high calcium content by 6 p.m. every day. When it comes to alcohol, women should be careful to enjoy it in small amounts. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet not only helps women to feel better during the menopause; it also helps women to keep their weight under control. We’ll take a closer look at how to eat well during the menopause in another article.
- Stress management: Some people find relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga and breathing exercises extremely useful, whilst others don’t find these kinds of methods help much. Nevertheless, many women going through the menopause report that these stress-management and relaxation techniques have helped them to cope better with the changes accompanying the menopause. In addition, relaxation exercises and meditative breathing exercises can also help you cultivate better physical awareness and stay flexible.
- Getting enough sleep: The fact that women have disturbed sleep during the menopause is something we’ve already mentioned. Women should therefore plan in plenty of time to get to sleep. It is vital to make sure you don’t go to bed too late – that way, there’s still plenty of time if you can’t get to sleep straight away or if you’re awake during the night. It can also be worth having a wet flannel and a fresh nightdress or sleepshirt at the ready. That way, you can quickly get changed and cool off when you have yet another unpleasant hot flush during the night.
- The right clothes: Hot flushes aren’t just a problem during the night but throughout the daytime, too. Women should therefore wear multiple layers, so that a piece of clothing – or even several – can be removed quickly when they start sweating. The material of your clothes can also be crucial. Natural materials are more suitable than artificial fibres, as body temperature can increase further still in clothing made from artificial fibres.
- Alternative methods: So-called alternative medicine is also frequently mentioned in connection with alleviating the symptoms of the menopause. These are herbal or homeopathic remedies that are said to be able to help relieve symptoms. Although there is no evidence that remedies such as these actually have any effect, many women rely on them. Women should always consultant a doctor before taking any alternative remedies.
These approaches can all help to alleviate the symptoms of the female menopause or, put another way, to cope with them more easily. Women shouldn’t see the menopause as a negative phase in their life but simply as a time of physical change. These changes can even be an opportunity to rediscover your own body, change your lifestyle, or experience something new.