First, it was cramps and carrying tampons or pads for emergencies. Now, it’s hot flashes and night sweats. You’ve traded your period for menopause. News flash — it sucks.
There’s good news, though. You don’t have to turn the thermostat down to icebox temps just to stay comfortable. There are plenty of other things you can do to make menopause bearable. Give these six tactics a try to keep your symptoms in line.
1. Go Back to Birth Control
When Aunt Flo stopped visiting, you probably thought your birth control days were behind you. You may not need to prevent pregnancy anymore, but you could probably use some hormone regulation to reduce your symptoms. Birth control can come to your rescue. If you take it consistently, it may be able to mitigate your hot flashes, night sweats, and any abnormal bleeding.
There’s another benefit to taking hormonal birth control. It keeps menopause-related acne to a minimum. The estrogen and progesterone help balance your levels of androgen — the male hormone. Androgen plays a role in how much oil your skin produces. Too much, and you develop acne. So give birth control a shot to sidestep a middle-age redo of your teenage years.
2. Get Sweaty (on Purpose)
OK, breaking a sweat on the treadmill doesn’t sound great when you feel like you’re on fire from the inside. In truth, it can’t nix your hot flashes, but exercise offers lots of other good things. You’ll get a great energy boost, and it will help you maintain stronger bones and more flexible joints. That’s a big deal. Women lose bone density quickly during menopause, putting you in jeopardy of fractures.
Your heart disease risk also rises during menopause. Working out regularly can reverse those dangerous changes. As little as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can lower your blood pressure. That means you’ll also be less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
3. Handle the Headaches
Even if you’ve never suffered a migraine before, they can suddenly appear during menopause. If you’re already dealing with other uncomfortable symptoms, headaches can make everything worse. Keeping a diary of what you eat and do is a great method to identify any migraine triggers. If you know what’s behind your head pounders, you can more easily avoid it.
Sleep and hunger are two of the most common headache prompters. Pay attention to how much you’re sleeping and try to keep a regular schedule. Changing how you eat may also help. Instead of sticking to three main meals a day, turn into a grazer. Nosh on smaller platefuls several times a day. Either of these tactics could make your migraines disappear or at least reduce their frequency and severity.
4. Put the Chill on Night Sweats
Lying in bed in a pool of your own sweat isn’t how anyone wants to relax at night. Menopause doesn’t care. Hot flashes that strike at bedtime can harass you for more than three minutes. That can feel like a steamy eternity and make it impossible to sleep.
To catch more of the z’s you need, it’s time to get cool. If you usually wear heavier pajamas, switch them out for lighter options (or nothing). Invest in sheets that wick heat away from your body to keep your skin cooler. Wrap up a bag of ice or frozen veggies and put it under your pillow. Keep a fan on all night. Whatever trick you use, just be sure to keep that temperature down.
5. Pay Attention to ‘Down There’
If you’re sweaty, moody, and have a headache, sex may be the last thing on your mind. Try to flip that script. When it comes to intimacy, it’s literally a “use it or lose it” affair. Menopause is definitely a hurdle, since it makes the vaginal skin thinner and drier. What was an enjoyable romp in the sack might feel like a painful chore now.
To keep your sex life going, it’s time to stock up on lube. The great news is you have options. You can grab a water-based vaginal lubricant or moisturizer over the counter. Need something stronger? Talk with your doctor about a prescription — a cream, ring, or pill — that can help grease your gears.
Remember, more sex equals better blood flow to your nether regions. Ultimately, that means better health.
6. Clear the Mental Fogginess
Brain fog got a lot of attention during the pandemic. Women who’ve been through menopause can testify it’s been around for years, though. Going through “the change” makes concentrating hard. Your memory gets fuzzy, and staying focused can feel nearly impossible. It’s all a sign that your brain needs an extra workout.
Menopause is a great time to challenge your mental muscles. Pick up a crossword puzzle every day. Dive into a new hobby or try to learn an instrument. Use mindful meditation or yoga to lower your stress levels, too. Stress is linked to hot flashes, and studies show the more you have, the worse your memory can be.
Let’s get real — there’s nothing great about menopause. All your hormones are changing. Your body looks and feels different. Plus, you’re pretty uncomfortable most of the time. It’s a natural part of life, though, that happens to every woman. How you handle it is largely up to you.
Do yourself a favor and face your symptoms head-on. If you try these strategies, you may be able to reduce the symptoms that bother you the most. You could feel more like your old self in no time.