06 Aug Understanding Menopause: Part 2
Menopause can be a difficult subject to discuss for some, and that’s partially due to its misunderstood nature. And that makes menopause even more important to learn about, regardless of one’s gender.
In Part 2 of our series Understanding Menopause, we’re going to dive into a variety of treatments. (In case you missed Part 1, check it out!)
You may need treatment if your symptoms are severe or affecting your quality of life. Hormone therapy may be an effective treatment in women under the age of 60, or within 10 years of menopause onset, for the reduction or management of:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- vaginal atrophy
Other medications may be used to treat more specific menopause symptoms, like hair loss and vaginal dryness.
Additional medications sometimes used for menopause symptoms include:
- topical minoxidil 5 percent, used once daily for hair thinning and loss
- antidandruff shampoos, commonly ketoconazole 2 percent and zinc pyrithione 1 percent, used for hair loss
- eflornithine hydrochloride topical cream for unwanted hair growth
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly paroxetine 7.5 milligrams for hot flashes, anxiety, and depression
- nonhormonal vaginal moisturizers and lubricants
- low-dose estrogen-based vaginal lubricants in the form of a cream, ring, or tablet
ospemifene for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
- prophylactic antibiotics for recurrent UTIs
- sleep medications for insomnia
- denosumab, teriparatide, raloxifene, or calcitonin for postmenstrual osteoporosis
Home remedies and lifestyle changes
There are several ways to reduce minor-to-moderate menopause symptoms naturally, using home remedies, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments.
Here are some at-home tips for managing menopause symptoms:
Keeping cool and staying comfortable
Dress in loose, layered clothing, especially during the nighttime and during warm or unpredictable weather. This can help you manage hot flashes.
Keeping your bedroom cool and avoiding heavy blankets at night can also help reduce your chances of night sweats. If you regularly have night sweats, consider using a waterproof sheet under your bedding to protect your mattress.
You can also carry a portable fan to help cool you down if you’re feeling flushed.
Exercising and managing your weight
Reduce your daily calorie intake by 400 to 600 calories to help manage your weight. It’s also important to exercise moderately for 20 to 30 minutes a day. This can help:
- increase energy
- promote a better night’s sleep
- improve mood
- promote your general well-being
Communicating your needs
Talk to a therapist or psychologist about any feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, isolation, insomnia, and identity changes.
You should also try talking to your family members, loved ones, or friends about feelings of anxiety, mood changes, or depression so that they know your needs.
Supplementing your diet
Take calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium supplements to help reduce your risk for osteoporosis and improve energy levels and sleep. Talk to your doctor about supplements that can help you for your individual health needs.
Practicing relaxation techniques
Practice relaxation and breathing techniques, such as:
- box breathing
Taking care of your skin
Apply moisturizers daily to reduce skin dryness. You should also avoid excessive bathing or swimming, which can dry out or irritate your skin.
Managing sleeping issues
Use over-the-counter sleep medications to temporarily manage your insomnia or consider discussing natural sleep aids with your doctor. Talk to your doctor if you regularly have trouble sleeping so they can help you manage it and get a better night’s rest.
Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use
Stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Exposure to cigarettes may make your symptoms worse.
You should also limit your alcohol intake to reduce worsening symptoms. Heavy drinking during menopause may increase your risk of health concerns.
Some limited studies have supported the use of herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms caused by estrogen deficiency.
Natural supplements and nutrients that may help limit menopause symptoms include:
- vitamin E
- flax seed
There are also claims that black cohosh may improve some symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. But in a recent review of studies, little evidence was found to support these claims. More research is needed.
Similarly, research from 2015 found no evidence to support claims that omega-3 fatty acids can improve vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause.
So What’s Next?
Menopause is the natural cessation, or stopping, of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and marks the end of fertility. Most women experience menopause by the age of 52, but pelvic or ovarian damage may cause sudden menopause earlier in life. Genetics or underlying conditions may also lead to early onset of menopause.
Many women experience menopause symptoms in the few years before menopause, most commonly hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing. Symptoms can continue for four or more years after menopause.
You may benefit from treatment, such as hormone therapy, if your symptoms are severe or affect your quality of life. Generally, menopause symptoms can be managed or reduced using natural remedies and lifestyle adjustments.