Menopause is natural. If you are a woman, you will have to go through it sooner or later. All it means is that your body is changing to adapt to the life when reproduction is not its main role. That means that our body starts producing much less of our main hormones – estrogen and progesterone. Of course, like any hormonal changes, such drastic drop in the hormone production affects our whole system, in one way or another. But, we need to remind ourselves that menopause is not a disease. It is nature’s way to tell us that our job of having babies is over, and not the sign that our life is over. With a bit of sense of humor, and a lot of icy water, we can find a way to cope with unpleasant symptoms.
New phase in our lives
The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flushes. Also, our periods will eventfully stop (thank God!), many of us will suffer from vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood swings, decreased interest in sex, heart palpitations and other delights. Some women have it really bad and end up with a depression. Others make up their mind that it is life as usual, and ignore the symptoms the best way they can. Those women came up with some coping mechanisms that are worth sharing. We better find tricks that work for us, because the accursed menopause can last for decades.
1. Think carefully about hormone replacement therapy. Research shows that it has too many dangerous consequences. Replacing hormones that your body naturally does not produce any more, just so you would avoid having hot flushes does not make much sense. Talk to your doctor how to avoid problems associated with lack of estrogen, such as osteoporosis.
2. Hot flushes are a pain, but are not dangerous. Wear layered clothes, so that you can shed them when the heat hits you. Keep a bottle of cool water near you at all times. A small fan next to your bed will help you without waking up your partner.
Dr. Freedman believes that dropping estrogen level cannot explain hot flashes, but there are some other changes that cause chaos in our temperature regulating mechanism. He suggests breathing exercises. Slow, deep breathing will lower and stabilize body temperature.
3. Stay healthy. If you are eating balanced healthy meals and exercising regularly, your body will maintain healthy balance regardless of raging hormonal changes. Keeping stable weight and well-toned muscles will allow you to protect your bones from osteoporosis, keep your self-esteem and allow you to feel and behave like you should – beautiful and desirable.
4. Have a lot of sex. Women who always had healthy, satisfying sex life will barely notice any changes with menopause, except that they will no longer have to worry about pregnancy. As for vaginal dryness, that is why pharmaceutical industry invented lubricants. New lubricants are water-based, pleasant and will actually enhance your experience. Some women have increased sexual appetite. If you are one of them, enjoy it. If you are single, don’t worry. Men notice sexy women regardless of their age, they are made that way.
5. Watch your diet. Some foods might trigger hot flushes. Not all women have the same triggers. Yours may be chocolate, wine, ripe cheese or coffee. No need to eliminate all of them, just find out what bothers you.
6. The word on the benefits of vitamin supplements is conflicting. For a long time, we were told that calcium and vitamin D supplements are necessary to avoid osteoporosis. The latest research suggests that it is much better to take them with food. Make sure your diet has enough milk, cheese, fish, nuts, grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
7. Try yoga. It is a low impact exercise that combines breathing and relaxation techniques. It will help you with hot flushes and you will probably meet some wonderful women with the same problem as yours.
8. Don”t link all your health problems with your menopause. You are entitled to having other problems that are not connected. Heart palpitations are expected, heart attacks are not. Your menopause also means that you are getting older and that many other things might start getting cranky. Get regular checkups.
If you ever get depressed with all the reminders menopause symptoms force on you that you are getting old, just look at Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Cher, Cybill Shepherd, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn or Helen Mirren. They are all over 60 and they have all been through menopause. And survived it intact.