Wellness Matters

4 Ways to Prepare for Menopause

March 03, 2015

By: Myra Dove, MD
Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist
Cone Health Women's Hospital

An estimated 6,000 women reach menopause every day in the United States. And with the negative stigmas such as the loss of youthfulness that comes with menopause how does a woman prepare?

Let's start with the basics, what is menopause?
Menopause is the point in a woman's life when she hasn't had her menstrual cycle, also known as a period, for one year. It marks the end of the childbearing years and is sometimes called "the change of life." For most women, menopause happens around age 50. But every woman's body has its own timeline.

Women also experience perimenopause. This is the process of change that leads up to menopause. It can start as early as your late 30s or as late as your early 50s. It can last from two to eight years and you may have irregular periods or other symptoms during this time.

What are the symptoms for menopause?
Some women experience very few physical symptoms during this stage of their lives and others experience symptoms such as severe hot flashes, trouble sleeping, emotional changes, headaches, feelings that your heart is beating too fast, problems with remembering or thinking clearly, and vaginal dryness.

How can I prepare for this change?
Fortunately, there are several lifestyle modifications to help you prepare:
  1. Eat well. Choose a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat. And try to avoid spicy foods. Also, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D to help your bones stay strong.
  2. Get regular exercise. Exercise can help you manage your weight, keep your heart and bones strong and lift your mood.
  3. Limit caffeine, alcohol and stress. These things can make symptoms worse. Limit them to help you sleep better. Also, wear wicking material while you sleep to help with nighttime hot flashes.
  4. Change your mindset. When most of what you hear about menopause is negative, it can be hard to enter into this stage of life with a positive frame of mind. Focusing on the positive aspects of menopause, such as no longer having to worry about a monthly period and thinking of this stage as an opportunity for rediscovery and reinvention, can help you prepare.
Medical treatments such as hormone replacement therapy can also help alleviate the perimenopause and menopause symptoms.

Cone Health Women's Hospital offers classes related to menopause and other midlife issues through the Red Hot Mamas® program. Click here to learn more.

13 comments:

  1. I believe I've been experiencing peri-menopause for a couple of years now....I'm currently 46 yrs old.
    While my diet is pretty decent and I exercise frequently, I still fear the idea of growing "old."
    My "symptoms" vary ...from slight hot flashes from time to time (typically while I sleep) to headaches as well.
    The one thing that concerns me most however, is the lack of concentration I experience along with problems remembering simple things.
    I just chalk it up to being scatter-brained, but I sure hope it's nothing serious.
    That all being said, I do feel I am certainly stronger and healthier than I was 20 yrs ago...I even rival my younger self in my appearance. So that I'm pretty happy about. 😊
    ...Tina Smiley
    Burlington NC

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  2. My wife is well past her child bearing age. She has been feeling sort of funny she says. As a worrisome husband, I want to help her figure out what is wrong and try to correct it. If it is in fact menopause, I think your list will be super helpful to her. I was clueless that caffeine was a bad thing for post menopausal women.
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