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5 Tips for Handling Menopause Symptoms

It’s strange that in an era where no topic seems to be off-limits, conversations around menopause still happen in hushed tones. Sure, you can laugh about the condition if you catch a Vegas showing of Menopause The Musical. But you’re not expected to bring up menopause’s serious side in polite discussions, such as its most prominent — and frustrating — symptoms.

These symptoms can include anything from hot flashes and painful sex to depression and insomnia. Although they’re naturally occurring physical responses, they’ve been swept under the rug so long that many women see them as somehow inherently “shameful.” In fact, according to a recent study from 2023, nearly 83% of women said they felt a sense of stigma around their menopause symptoms.

The hard truth is that menopause is normal and should be addressed, not swept under the rug. If you have ovaries and live long enough, you’ll experience menopause. Period. (Eventually, no period.) You shouldn’t have to pretend it doesn’t exist. On the contrary, you have every right to take charge of your life and do what it takes to feel comfortable as you adjust to your menopause years.

To ease your transition, try these five strategies. They’re aimed at taming the most common menopause side effects without requiring you to keep everything in the shadows.

1. Be candid with your doctor.

Whether you’re dealing with a primary healthcare provider or OB-GYN, start talking about your menopause concerns when issues arise. It’s possible that symptoms you’re attributing to menopause could have other causes. If your doctor doesn’t listen to you or dismisses you, as happens far too frequently to women patients, find someone else.

Having a trusting, respectful relationship with your doctors matters. Your midlife changes should be taken seriously by your healthcare team. There’s no reason for you to speak in whispers with medical personnel about your menopause questions, concerns, or experiences.

2. Look for long-term solutions.

For most women, perimenopause lasts for years. Since this is a long-term process, you can’t expect any solution to work overnight. A fast fix just isn’t going to give you lasting relief. Therefore, have patience when trying solutions meant to progressively work, like vaginal moisturizers. Solv Wellness, a leading female pelvic health advocacy company, explains that vaginal moisturizers are meant to replenish moisture within the vaginal and vulvar tissues. Unlike quick-acting lubricants meant to increase pleasure and reduce friction during intercourse, high-quality vaginal moisturizers lean on ingredients like hyaluronic acid to nourish tissues over time with regular applications.

Having trouble waiting? Start a journal. Every day, write down your symptoms and what you’re doing to treat them. Journaling helps you see your progress. The practice also can help you identify correlations between triggers and symptoms. Keeping a journal can show potential “cause and effect” outcomes so you can make adjustments accordingly.

3. Regulate your estrogen levels.

What’s the culprit behind many of those menopause symptoms you’ve been having? Waxing and waning estrogen, a hormone your body has been producing forever. When estrogen levels go high, you’re more prone to tender breasts and heavier menstrual flows. When estrogen levels dip, you’re at risk for sleep disturbances, night sweats, and low energy. And while you’re in perimenopause and early menopause, your estrogen can fluctuate.

Regulating your estrogen (and other hormones, like progesterone and testosterone) can help temper some symptoms’ unpredictability and intensity. You may want to consider a hormone-free product that contains an ingredient like Rheum rhaponticum. According to Metagenics’ evidence, Rheum rhaponticum has been shown to reduce estrogen-related menopause symptoms by 83%. Just be sure to research any remedies (and ask your physician for advice) before starting them.

4. Embrace healthier habits.

Eating a steady diet of fatty on-the-go meals, salty snacks, and sugary treats isn’t going to help you keep your menopause symptoms at bay. More likely, your junk diet will cause you to gain weight, feel more fatigued, and maybe worsen your menopause symptoms. The same holds if you aren’t incorporating movement into your day, so commit to making some healthy tweaks to your daily behaviors.

You don’t have to go out and train for an ultramarathon or stop indulging in dessert, of course. But make more informed choices in what you eat and the exercise you get. Remember: Food and fitness can heal and help your mind and body. Simply building more muscle could have a major impact As one 2023 academic review showed, strength training seems to be a solid method to control mood and decrease hot flashes. By treating yourself well, you can subdue your menopause symptoms.

5. Take time when you need it.

For the majority of women, menopause occurs well before their retirement years. As a result, plenty of them experience stress related to balancing their symptoms with their job responsibilities. That’s easier said than done. As noted in a study released in 2023, 65% of women admit that their occupational performance has been affected by their menopause side effects. Yet only 18% had taken paid time off (PTO) to address their problems.

This statistic indicates the “grin and bear it” attitude that has plagued professional women for generations. Rather than forcing yourself to push your way through your worst menopause symptoms, take time when you need it. You’re not doing yourself (or your company) any favors by sitting at your desk when you desperately need a break to recharge, refuel, and recuperate. Besides, by using the PTO available to you, you can come back to your work with a new sense of enthusiasm and focus.

You can’t run or hide from perimenopause and menopause. But this important time in your life doesn’t have to leave you feeling overwhelmed or disheartened. Handling menopause symptoms is a doable goal. And when your menopause is better controlled, you’ll be able to continue on a path to living your best life — and loving the years ahead.

First For Women partners with external contributors. All contributor content is reviewed by the First For Women editorial staff.

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