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:

  • 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.
Mar. 18, 2014