Menopause Lifestyle Tips

1. Cooling off those hot flashes without hormone therapy

Try dressing in light layers that can be taken off when a hot flash starts; using a hand-held, battery-operated fan; and taking a tepid or cool shower before bedtime. For some women, alcohol or caffeine trigger hot flashes, so it can help to avoid these substances. If stress brings on hot flashes, try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation.


Source: Rosenthal Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine, Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons

2. Weight gain at menopause common but not inevitable

Most women gain weight, especially in their midsection, around menopause. This mid-life weight gain is partly because of hormonal changes associated with menopause. However, weight gain is also associated with inadequate physical activity, and women tend to be less physically active as they grow older. To avoid weight gain, make exercise a priority. In fact, you may need to exercise more than you did when you were younger to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight because the metabolism naturally slows down as you age.

Source: Postgrad Med 2000 Sep 1; 108(3): 47-50, 53-6; Mayo Clinic

3. Calcium, vitamin D key to bone health, overall health

Adequate calcium intake — in the presence of adequate levels of vitamin D — plays a major role in reducing the incidence of osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that can lead to fractures. In addition, calcium's also appears to have beneficial effects in several nonskeletal disorders, such as high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, obesity, and kidney stones. Most women who are peri- or post-menopausal should get at least 1,200 mg per day of elemental calcium, and, to ensure adequate calcium absorption, 400-600 IU per day of vitamin D.

Source: North American Menopause Society

4. Vaginal dryness easily conquered

As estrogen levels drop at menopause, the vagina's natural lubricants decline, resulting in dryness and itching that can make intercourse painful. The paradox is that regular sexual activity that leads to orgasm can help keep the vagina moist. Before intercourse, try inserting a nonprescription lubricating cream or jelly into the vagina with a plastic applicator, like those used for spermicidal cream. Other vaginal lubricants include vitamin E oil, cocoa butter and wheat germ oil. If nonprescription remedies don't help, talk to your health care professional about estrogen vaginal cream or another form of estrogen therapy.

Copyright 2003 National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC)