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5 ways to ease menopause symptoms
5 ways to ease menopause symptoms
Menopause can be a challenging time for many. With around 34 recognised symptoms, from hot flushes to mood swings, it can feel as though your body is on an uncontrollable rollercoaster ride. This may sound daunting but there is a wide range of treatment options available proven to help. These range from simple lifestyle changes to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Read on to find out more.
What is menopause?
Your body’s menstrual cycle gradually slows down and stops in the run-up to menopause. This is caused by dramatic hormonal shifts, including a decrease in the amount and type of oestrogen produced.
It’s this decrease in oestrogen levels that can trigger menopause symptoms, such as feeling anxious, night sweats and poor sleep, to name a few. It is also common for your periods to become irregular and heavier during this time.
Menopause is the moment when you haven’t had periods for more than a year and you are not using hormonal contraception. The experience and number, severity and duration of symptoms is different for everyone. It’s common for symptoms to last for up to ten years and most people have their final period in their early 50s. Find out more about menopause symptoms here.
What can help menopause symptoms?
Here are a few things to try that are proven to help:
Nutrition and what to include in your diet
It won’t come as a surprise that a healthy diet is important at any time of life but it is, especially critical during menopause. Good nutrition can help with your symptoms and set you up for a healthy later life.
Confused about where to start? Move away from fad diets about restriction and focus on:
- Encouraging a healthy gut flora. Eat plenty of whole foods, including fruit, vegetables and whole grains (brown rice, bulgur wheat, millet, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and pasta)
- Stabilising your blood sugar levels. Try following a low-GI diet and eating foods that have little effect on blood sugar levels
- Reducing alcohol, which can worsen many symptoms
Putting on weight? Declining oestrogen levels during menopause means this is a common symptom. The Stella menopause support app can help your weight gain with tips and tricks to add the right foods into your diet and add healthier habits to your daily routine.
Exercise and strength training
Exercise is a great way to improve your menopause symptoms as well as your overall wellbeing. How much should you do? Current NHS guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Exercise can help weight management and keep your heart and circulatory system in good condition.Exercise has consistently shown to improve mood and sleep issues during menopause
Unsure what type of exercise to get started with? Strength training helps you build bone density and muscle mass, both of which decline postmenopause. Any kind of weight-bearing exercise counts, such as gardening and carrying heavy shopping bags, as well as relaxing activities like yoga and tai chi.
If you find it difficult to fit exercise into your day, exercise snacking might work for you. The Stella app has weekly exercises classes, including strength training that you can join in.
Mood changes and stress management techniques
The hormonal changes of menopause can wreak havoc, causing your mood to plummet and to feel more irritable and exhausted from mood swings. The fact these symptoms are common doesn’t lessen their huge impact on your life and wellbeing. More serious issues like depression and anxiety also become more common at this time and are even thought to go hand-in-hand with hot flushes and sleep disruption.
You don’t need to suffer any of these symptoms in silence as there are effective treatments which can help you to overcome them. HRT is regularly prescribed for low mood and mood swings associated with menopause, while antidepressants can help if your symptoms are more serious.
The Stella app can help with mood changes through cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and stress management techniques, such as mindfulness. The app has guided meditations, breathing exercises, soundscapes, and more to help you relax, feel more focused or energised.
If you are struggling with your symptoms, talking about what you are experiencing withfriends, family and coworkers can help. It can be difficult to open up and be vulnerable at a time when you feel the most fragile but a strong support network can make a real differences. You may even be surprised to find that others have also found menopause challenging.
If you aren’t sure how to have these conversations, take a look at Stella’s guide to talking to your partner about menopause and how to boost your confidence at work during menopause.
If you are struggling with menopause symptoms, you have probably thought about HRT. As the name suggests, this is a hormonal treatment which replaces the oestrogen no longer produced by your own body.
HRT is the most effective treatment available for menopause symptoms. It is proven to improve a wide range of symptoms, from hot flushes to vaginal changes. It can be taken in a number of different ways including patches, gels, pills and vaginal preparations among others.
HRT is not for everyone and your medical history may mean you are unable to take it. You may have read about some of the problems associated with HRT including increased risks of blood clots and breast cancer. These risks are not as significant as once thought, especially if you take HRT as a patch or transdermal gel.
Stella offers a free online menopause assessment which recommends personalised treatment options based on your symptoms, medical history, lifestyle and preferences. Treatment can include HRT, if right for you, delivered in 3-5 days. Your subscription includes online doctor’s appointments and ongoing medication review. You can also access the Stella menopause support app with a personalised plan for specific symptoms, coaching and menopause resources.
Dr Lucy Wilkinson is a GP with special interests in women’s health and digital health. She trained at the universities of St Andrews, Manchester and the Autonoma University of Madrid, and holds postgraduate qualifications in obstetrics, gynaecology and sexual health. She is a member of the British Menopause Society and clinical advisor at Stella.
Better menopause care. Feel more in control.
Stella is an online clinic for menopause offering affordable, personalised menopause care. We provide access to all treatment options, including HRT, if appropriate, ongoing support and community through our Stella menopause app.
Lack of sleep, anxious feelings and hot flushes are just a few of the 40+ menopause symptoms that can make you feel less capable and focused. Many feel overwhelmed during menopause, at home and work. It doesn’t have to be this way and that’s why we are here to help.
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