Your lifestyle plays an important role during the menopause. The choices you make during this time have a big effect on the menopause symptoms: these can be the dividing line between a ‘good’menopause and a ‘bad’menopause.
Basically, the way you live your life will impact upon the symptoms of the menopause and can make the transition easier to go through.
The following lifestyle factors will ease the symptoms of the menopause:
- Healthy diet
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a sensible weight
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Limit caffeine consumption
These will not only improve the symptoms but your overall health as well.
Diet is discussed in more detail in a separate section.
This is important in that it not only improves your cardiovascular fitness but also helps to build strong bones, relieve stress and boosts your mood.
It is also useful as a means of weight control. Diet is important but needs to be combined with exercise for the maximum effect.
Choose an exercise which you enjoy and more importantly, are likely to stick to. It is easy to take up a new sport or exercise activity only to find that you have lost interest after a few weeks.
This does not mean sweating for hours in the gym or running a marathon. There are numerous ways of keeping fit which include walking, dancing, cycling, swimming, aerobics etc.
Find something which raises your heart rate but does not leave you exhausted and out of breath. Aim to exercise on a regular basis for at least 30 minutes each day, 5 days a week.
We all know the risks of smoking so if you are still smoking then give up. Smoking causes a range of health problems which include heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Plus the risk of these increase with age so it is even more important that you kick the habit.
Your GP can advise you about smoking cessation programmes.
It is normal to put on weight during the menopause due to changes in hormone levels and lifestyle.
Many women find that they are less active at this stage, for example they have a sedentary job and this coupled with an increased calorie intake means that the weight goes on.
There is also the fact that the metabolism slows down as we age which means that you are less likely to burn off those calories.
Exercise helps to speed up the metabolism and that combined with a healthy diet will result in weight loss. The aim is to maintain that weight.
Many women assume that gaining weight is a normal part of the menopause but this needn’t be the case. Going through the menopause does not mean that you have to put on weight and if you adopt a healthy lifestyle then there is no reason why you should.
A glass of wine or a beer is fine in moderation but too many of these cause problems in the long term. A problem with alcohol is that it contains empty calories which can contribute to weight gain.
Alcohol can also worsen the symptoms of the menopause.
It is tempting to drink more than usual to deal with these symptoms but this has the opposite effect. It increases the intensity of these symptoms which is the last thing you want.
Excess alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer and osteoporosis so another good reason not to overindulge.
Many of us enjoy the effects of caffeine via our morning cup of tea or a coffee on the way to the office. A small amount of caffeine is beneficial but an excessive amount can cause problems.
These include a reduction in calcium levels which decreases bone density. This increases the risk of osteoporosis.
This is discussed in more detail in our diet section.
It is easy to forget about your needs during the menopause as this is a time in life when you are busy with work, your family and other competing demands on your time.
But it is important not to neglect yourself during this transition and to set aside some ‘me time’ so that you have a positive rather than negative experience.
Diet and exercise will help but also look at taking up a new hobby or spending time on exploring a current interest. Look at your relationships with friends and family to see if these need strengthening.
The menopause can be a frightening and isolating experience which causes many women to push others away. But this is a time in your life when you need the support and companionship of others.
If you have always been a good friend or sympathetic shoulder to cry on, now is a time when you should be extended the same courtesy. Talk to other women, especially those who have been through the menopause or consider joining a menopause support group.
This is particularly useful when you are having a bad day or the symptoms appear to be worse than ever. If you are feeling depressed and lacking in self-esteem then talk to other people. Explain to them about your symptoms as it often helps to share these issues.
Other self help options include wearing light clothing at night, using cotton bedding, avoiding spicy foods and drinking plenty of water, This will ensure that you are properly hydrated as well as giving your skin a youthful glow.
- Guide to Menopause
- What is the menopause?
- Female hormones and menopause
- Premature menopause
- Menopause signs
- Menopause symptoms
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Urinary changes
- Vaginal changes
- Weight gain
- Lack of interest in sex
- Aches and pains
- Skin changes
- Emotional changes
- Health risks of the menopause
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Menopause treatment
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Benefits of hormone replacement therapy
- Risks of hormone replacement therapy
- Alternatives to hormone replacement therapy
- Vaginal lubricants
- Menopause self help
- Nutritional supplements
- Complimentary therapies
- Botanical products
- How to survive the menopause
- Menopause myths
- Menopause FAQs