By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
REGION – Night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, dry skin, thinning hair, sleep issues and more are all symptoms that many women experience while going through menopause. While it can be frustrating, it is a natural part of life.
Menopause typically begins when a woman is in her late forties or early fifties. It can usually last for a few years. There are basically three stages of menopause, the first being perimenopause, which is the time leading up to it. The second stage is menopause when you’ve stopped producing the hormones that cause your menstruation. The third phase is postmenopause where you have not had a period for one year. The end of menopause might bring about an increased libido, excess energy and feeling very focused.
Estrogen therapy and diet changes can help
There are many ways in which to manage menopause. Some doctors may suggest estrogen therapy which is a good treatment for relief of hot flashes. However, some women cannot take hormones and might opt for a more holistic approach using natural supplements, limiting alcohol and caffeine, staying hydrated, reducing the intake of carbs and refined sugar and more.
Eating foods that contain vitamin D and calcium help to prevent bone loss that can occur during menopause. Dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk might be beneficial. Exercise helps eliminate mood swings and can assist weight management as weight gain is commonly associated with menopause. It also helps to decrease stress, improves energy and mental health.
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to keep bones healthy and can help you to feel full. Caffeine and alcohol have been known to trigger mood changes and night sweats. Being mindful in the evenings about limiting their consumption might help to alleviate these symptoms.
Phytoestrogens are natural plant compounds that may help to balance hormones as they mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Many foods like sesame seeds, beans, flaxseeds, tofu and more contain phytoestrogens.
Because estrogen levels decrease during menopause, some women experience dryness. it is important to stay hydrated and drinking water may help reduce dryness symptoms as well as help you feel satiated.
Reducing your intake of refined sugar and carbs can help with mood swings. Those food groups can cause irritability and a feeling of tiredness as they directly cause blood sugar levels to rapidly change. Protein intake can also help you to feel full and satisfied.
Coping with the emotions
Women going through menopause all experience it differently. Some women even feel melancholy knowing they are now approaching a different stage in their lives.
“Surprisingly enough, I felt a bit of sadness when I was informed that getting ‘pregnant’ was no longer a risk for me,” said Kathy Bridge of Westborough. “My periods had been a part of my life from the age of thirteen until the age of 53 and all of a sudden ‘poof,’ no worries. It was bittersweet.”
“Since this time, I have tried to embrace the changes in my body,” she explained. “There’s nothing bittersweet there, just pure bitter! I am fortunate to be in good health and for that I am grateful. The rest just has to be what it is.”
Finding a specialist
Dr. Heidi Angle of Gynecology Partners, P.C in Weston had this to add. “Every woman is different so no one can know what their experience will be in advance,” she noted. “It is rare for women to have misery, so I tell my patients not to assume ‘badness.’ ”
Angle also had a suggestion for learning more about menopause. “It is important for women to have a sounding board for questions and concerns,” she said. “Fortunately, we have far better resources than our mothers did. I encourage women to look for a NAMS CMP (North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practitioner).”
Learn more at www.menopause.org.