To get relief from menopause symptoms, you can take off all your clothes and heavily self-medicate, you can just accept it and get through it, or you can be proactive. (Kind of the same options you have when it comes to sex.) There is no wrong answer. If we live long enough, all women will be faced with this choice. The answer will depend on the severity of symptoms, the stoicism of the individual and her risk vs. benefit. If you decide to take charge and go after it, here are some things that can help manage menopause.
1. Hormone Therapy – A few years ago, some studies came out that said that HT was great for your heart and your stroke risk. The rationale behind it was based on the fact that when women go through menopause and their estrogen and progesterone drop, their risk for cardiac disease quickly becomes the same as a man’s. Pretty simple. Keep hormone levels where they were prior to menopause and cardiac health will follow. Nothing is so easy. It was then found that HT increased the risk of breast and uterine cancer, blood clots AND heart disease and stroke risk.
Still, it is approved in the short term for women who are suffering with hot flashes. With proper dosing and adequate follow up, it is a good option for those women whose lives are severely interrupted by their symptoms.
2. Antidepressants – Certain antidepressants, in low doses, have been shown to diminish the menopausal side effects, especially mood swings and hot flashes. As I am assuming the wrinkles will keep wrinkling, the saggy skin will keep sagging, and mirrors will continue to reflect, I will probably be on Prozac by that time anyway.
3. Clonidine – This is an old drug used to control blood pressure. It is effective in preventing hot flashes. Gabapentin is an anti-seizure drug that also has been shown to diminish hot flashes. Remember, all meds have side effects.
4. Changing your diet – Avoid caffeine and alcohol (bring on the real mood swings), increase your intake of soy and calcium. Drink lots of water and try to maintain a healthy weight.
5. Change your lifestyle – Quit smoking. Can you believe in 2011, I still have to say that? Stay active. Engage in yoga and relaxation techniques. Watch your triggers – certain situations and spicy foods can bring on symptoms. Try to avoid them.
The other solution I kept encountering is to “keep cool.” Yes, that’s it. Keep cool. Now why didn’t you think of that? I swear, if men went through menopause, there would be a special meeting of Congress to discuss funding the research for symptom relief.