Learning to Cope with Menopause

If you're approaching a certain age, you may have worries about menopause. But there are ways that you can be prepared.

As a woman ages, she knows she confronts one certainty—facing menopause. For some women, menopause means an end to the discomfort, emotional rollercoaster, and inconvenience of dealing with their period. For others, it means a new set of physical and perhaps emotional concerns.

Technically, menopause occurs after a woman goes one year without having a period. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’s Health (HHS), the average age for reaching menopause is 51, though some women go through it during their 40s or later in their 50s. (Premature menopause, which starts before age 40, can be caused by several medical conditions. HHS recommends seeing your doctor if you have symptoms of menopause before that age.)

The list of symptoms associated with perimenopause and during menopause vary, but the most common include:

  • hot flashes
  • irregular periods
  • difficulty sleeping
  • increased infections of the vagina and urinary tract
  • painful intercourse
  • diminished sex drive
  • moodiness

For many women, hormone therapy can lessen the symptoms of menopause. The treatments take one of two forms: menopausal hormone treatment (MHT) or bioidentical hormone treatment (BHT). There are pros and cons to hormone therapy, so be sure to discuss your options with your doctor.

Another way to manage menopause symptoms is to eat soy-based foods, since soy has phytoestrogens, which are plant chemicals that are similar to estrogen. You can also try herbal supplements that contain phytoestrogens.

How you treat your menopause symptoms depends on their type and severity. Consult with your doctor to see what’s right for you. But here are some general health tips that can help any woman deal with the challenges of menopause:

  • Do aerobic exercise on a regular basis; it can help boost your mood and promote a good night’s sleep.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises to counteract bone loss.
  • After menopause, take 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D each day.
  • Stop smoking and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke, as menopause increases a woman’s risk of developing heart disease.

At Woman’s Hospital, we’re experts on all the unique health issues women face throughout their lives. Whatever you’re problem, we’re here to help every step of the way. We encourage you to learn about menopause and embrace this transitional time.

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