Menopause symptoms: Lifestyle tips offer relief
When menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, are at their peak, you can take steps to find relief.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness — these are just a few of the things you might experience during the menopausal transition. Menopause symptoms may not last forever, but that doesn't make them any less uncomfortable when you're dealing with them.
Here are some lifestyle approaches you might try to ease the discomfort of menopause symptoms:
Mar. 18, 2014
- Cool hot flashes. Dress in layers, have a cold glass of water or go somewhere cooler. Try to pinpoint what triggers your hot flashes. For many women, triggers may include hot beverages, caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol, stress, hot weather and even a warm room.
- Decrease vaginal discomfort. Use over-the-counter, water-based vaginal lubricants (Astroglide, Intrigue, others) or moisturizers (Lubrin, Replens, others). Choose products that don't contain glycerin, which can cause burning or irritation in women who are sensitive to that chemical. Staying sexually active also helps by increasing blood flow to the vagina.
- Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine, which can make it hard to get to sleep, and avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can interrupt sleep. Exercise during the day, although not right before bedtime. If hot flashes disturb your sleep, you may need to find a way to manage them before you can get adequate rest.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques such as deep breathing, paced breathing, guided imagery, massage and progressive muscle relaxation can help relieve menopausal symptoms. You can find a number of books, CDs and online offerings on different relaxation exercises.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscle exercises, called Kegel exercises, can improve some forms of urinary incontinence.
- Eat healthy. Eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and that limits saturated fats, oils and sugars. Ask your provider if you need calcium or Vitamin D supplements to help meet daily requirements.
- Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer and a range of other health problems. It may also increase hot flashes and bring on earlier menopause.
- Exercise regularly. Get regular physical activity or exercise on most days to help protect against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and other conditions associated with aging.
See more In-depth
- Menopause. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/menopause.htm. Accessed Dec. 7, 2012.
- Innes KE, et al. Mind-body therapies for menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. Maturitas. 2010;66:135.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Dec. 6, 2012.
- Nelson LM, et al. Clinical manifestation and evaluation of spontaneous primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure). http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Jan. 1, 2013.
- Menopausal symptoms and complementary health practices. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/menopause/menopausesymptoms#hed2/. Accessed Dec. 7, 2012.
- Lindh-Astrand L, et al. Effects of applied relaxation on vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women: A randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2012;20:1.
- Colpani V, et al. Association between habitual physical activity and lower cardiovascular risk in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women: A population-based study. Menopause. 2012;20:1.
- Warnecke E. What works? Evidence for lifestyle and nonprescription therapies in menopause. Australian Family Physician. 2011;40:286.
- Kelley KW, et al. Evaluating the evidence for over-the-counter alternatives for relief of hot flashes in menopausal women. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. 2010;50:e106.
- For better sex: 3 ways to strengthen your pelvic floor. The Northern American Menopause Society. http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/for-better-sex-3-ways-to-strengthen-your-pelvic-floor. Accessed Dec. 7, 2012.
- MenoNote: Vaginal dryness. The North American Menopause Society. http://www.menopause.org/publications/educational-materials-for-women/menonotes. Accessed Oct. 31, 2012.
- Marnach ML (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 7, 2013.
- Faubion SS (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 11, 2013.