Menopause aka Hormonal Havoc: Lifestyle Tips

Menopause aka Hormonal Havoc: Lifestyle Tips

Our expert: Dr. Sherry Ross

Sheryl A. Ross, M.D., “Dr. Sherry,” is an award-winning OBGYN, our go-to for pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and beyond. She’s practiced for 20+ years, recently won both a Top Ten OB/GYN & Patient’s Choice Award. She also has a line of custom vitamins made specially for women, Dr. Ross D3FY Vitamins.

There are many lifestyle changes you can implement to make your menopause symptoms a whole lot easier.

1. Hot flashes. Dress in layers and stay in temperatures that are cool.  Air conditioning is your friend.  Taking a bag of ice and putting your hands and feet in ice help relieve those nasty hot flashes.  Plan ahead if at all possible.  If you know hot beverages, spicy foods, red wine, stress and hot climates bring on hot flashes, avoid them.

Herbal remedies would include black cohosh and other traditional Chinese medicine.

2. Decreasing vaginal discomfort. A dry vagina is painful, especially if you are having sexual intercourse.  You can purchase over -the-counter vaginal lubricants that are water based (avoid lubricants with alcohol…ouch!), such as Astroglide, KY and Intrigue or moisturizers such as Replens and Lubrin.  Avoid vaginal lubricants that contain glycerin, which can cause burning and irritation.  Extra virgin coconut oil can also be used vaginally that can help with dryness and pain with sex. Cannabis cream and topical lidocaine can help with vaginal discomfort as well.

3. Practice relaxation and mindfulness. When the symptoms of menopause overwhelm you, techniques such as deep breathing, guided imagery, relaxation, massage and mindfulness can help curb them.

4. Eating a Well Balanced Diet-Eating awell-balanced and colorful diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and limiting the amounts of saturated fat, oils, sugar and diary.  Have your vitamin D level measured and also discuss how much calcium you should be getting from your diet or from supplements.  The old adage, you are what you eat applies during this hormonal upheaval as well.

5. Try and Get Enough Sleep– Avoiding a lot of caffeine and alcohol is a must.  To be completely realistic, learn to consume these favored vices in moderation.  One cup (12 oz) of caffeine in the morning and 3-4 alcoholic beverages a week is what to aim for. In addition, try to set up a regular bedtime, limit the amount of liquids consumed after dinner so you don’t have to get up to take a bathroom break, take a warm bath before going to bed and make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive.

Herbal remedies include valerian and melatonin.

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6. Put down the smokes. Smoking cigarettes can make your hot flashes worse and increase your risk for other medical problems such as heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.

7. Reduce your alcohol intake. The Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat, and along with leisurely dining, a glass of red wine is often recommended daily.  I would have to say that if you consume one glass of red wine a day (about 5 oz), you would not have to worry about liver or heart disease as a result. The current recommendation of a healthy alcohol intake is consuming 3-4 servings of alcohol (5 oz of wine and 1 ½ oz of hard liquor) a week. Do the best job you can to follow those guidelines if at all possible.

8. Exercise regularly. The benefit of regular exercise three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes is helpful for the mind, heart and menopausal symptoms.  You have heard it many times before that regular exercise also protects against heart disease, diabetes, and other medical conditions.  Try choosing a variety of exercises that will keep you interested in continuing a routine that will promote healthy living and aging.

9. Acupuncture. I would have to say the Chinese got it right with acupuncture. This ancient ritual for maintaining health and vitality by balancing energy flow works for many or most medical conditions.  Specifically for women, conditions such as headaches, lower back pain, menstrual cramps and nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy are improved through acupuncture. Acupuncture has also been shown to decrease hot flashes and heart palpitations by 50%.  This ancient and simple treatment works well with no real side effects.

10. Continue doing your Kegels. Strengthening you pelvic floor muscles has always been a good thing.  When you were younger, it was said that doing Kegel exercises helped with orgasm and sex.  Through the aging process, Kegels were a plus after having a baby to make sure you didn’t have too much loss of urine.  As you enter menopause and the next stage of life, Kegels are still useful in preventing loss of urine and having to think about buying Depends sooner than later.  Plus Kegel exercises will still help with orgasms and sex!

11. Hormone Replacement Therapy. Depending on your personal symptoms, philosophies and medical problems, the choice to take HRT (as it is better known) is for you and your healthcare provider to discuss.

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