Norma Goldman BPharm. MRPharmS. MSc.
Founder and Director, The Menopause Exchange
Everyone’s experience of the menopause is different. But there are lots of useful tips and advice on how to reduce the common symptoms of menopause.
- Dress in easily removable layers so you can adjust your temperature if you need to. Wear natural fibres as much as possible, or mixtures containing some natural fibres. Avoid tight-fitting Lycra clothes.
- Avoid synthetic bedding as this increases sweating. Use cotton sheets instead. Blankets are better than duvets. Try and sleep with the bedding loose.
- Take warm showers instead of hot baths.
- Women who are putting on weight are more likely to get hot flushes.
- Cut out, or cut down on, coffee, tea, cola drinks, spicy foods and foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) as these can trigger hot flushes or make them worse.
- Avoid hot soup, hot drinks and large meals in the evenings if they trigger night sweats or make them worse.
- Carry a mini battery-operated fan.
Practise relaxation and paced breathing to reduce stress, help brain fog, help you concentrate and think more clearly.
- Quit smoking. There’s evidence it speeds up the onset of the menopause by about two years. Menopausal women who smoke have worse hot flushes than non-smokers.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol, as this can increase hot flushes.
- Be more active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (e.g. brisk walking) every week plus strengthening exercises on two or more days each week. If you’re new to exercise, have any medical conditions, are over 55 or haven’t exercised for three months, check with a doctor before trying a new routine. Be careful not to overdo it.
- Practise relaxation and paced breathing to reduce stress, help brain fog, help you concentrate and think more clearly.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help hot flushes, night sweats, low mood and anxiety as well as sleep and stress. You can use various techniques to help you relax, get into a healthy sleep routine and feel more positive about your symptoms and life in general.
- With reference to anxiety, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, breathe in for a count of seven, then out for a count of 11 and repeat. After a few deep relaxing out-breaths, your body and mind slow down and your thoughts become clearer.
- Mindfulness, meditation or prayer lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, reducing anxiety and stress. Focus on peaceful or positive images and develop calming sleep strategies, such as writing down anxious thoughts. Take time out and have plenty of ‘me-time’.