How to cope with the menopause

Beautiful blond mature woman relaxing in sofa

For many women, the menopause can be a trying time, with 'the change' taking its toll on both physical and mental health. If you are currently struggling to cope, here are some tips that might help ease the symptoms.

There is evidence to suggest that regular aerobic exercise means you are less likely to suffer severe symptoms of menopause. Exercise will help to relieve stress and boost feel good hormones, as well as helping to protect you from heart disease and osteoporosis, the onset of which is often linked to the menopause. Try to exercise at least three times a week to improve flexibility, balance and mobility, and keep the bones and muscles strong.

The psychological symptoms associated with the menopause can be just as tough to cope with as the physical issues. Few of us will really remember what it was like to go through puberty, but in a similar way, it is the changes in hormone levels that causes problems of anxiety, irritability, fatigue, lethargy and mood swings. Yoga or tai chi may help you relax, while also doing a great job of strengthening your body.

Stop smoking
According to the NHS, women who smoke are more prone to an earlier menopause, suffer worse symptoms, and may not respond to some forms of HRT as well as their non-smoking counterparts. Quit the cigarettes and you'll benefit not only from potentially reduced menopausal symptoms, but better general health into the bargain. There are many options available to help you, from nicotine patches or gum, to one-to-one support free with the NHS, or medication.

Be cool
Hot flushes are one of the most common symptoms of the menopause, and can cause discomfort and problems sleeping. Though they can come on at any time and usually without warning, there are some potential triggers it's worth avoiding, including spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol. Try to keep your bedroom cool and wear light clothing at night to reduce the chances of night sweats. It's best to avoid exercising at night as it can keep you awake.

Eat well
With your body effectively in hormonal turmoil, it's essential to eat a balanced diet to maintain good health. Plenty of fresh fruit and veg, a few servings of oily fish, and plenty of calcium (no more than 2,000mg per day) will help you to get all the vitamins and minerals you need.

If self-help is doing little to relieve your symptoms, ook an appointment with your GP. Treatments such as antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy, or even nutritional supplements could make all the difference.

How did you cope with the menopause, and what advice would you give to women about to go through the change? Leave your comments below...
Coping with the Menopause - Pamela's Story