Health Topics

Coping With the Symptoms of Menopause

Not all women experience menopause in the same way. For some, menopause can bring on uncomfortable symptoms. Others may experience few discomforts. Visit the listing below for helpful tips on how to cope with your menopausal symptoms.

Relieving Hot Flashes

  • Identify and avoid your hot flash "triggers." Common triggers include stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, tight clothing, heat and cigarette smoke.
  • Keep the bedroom cool. Use fans during the day. Wear light layers of clothing.
  • Try deep, slow abdominal breathing (6 to 8 breaths per minute). Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening and at the onset of hot flashes.
  • Exercise daily. Walking, swimming, dancing and bicycling are good choices.

Relieving Insomnia

  • Keep the bedroom cool (65 degrees Farenheit at night) to prevent night sweats.
  • Avoid using sleeping pills.
  • Take a warm bath or shower at bedtime.
  • Eat cereal and milk products at bedtime or during the night. (Avoid products that contain caffeine.)

Coping With Mood Swings, Fears, and Depression

  • Find a self-calming skill to practice, such as yoga, meditation or slow, deep breathing.
  • Avoid tranquilizers, if possible.
  • Engage in a creative outlet that fosters a sense of achievement.

Relieving Painful Intercourse

  • Try using a vaginal water-based moisturizing lotion or lubricant during intercourse or try olive oil as lubricant and moisturizer.

Preventing Osteoporosis

  • Calcium can slow bone loss and may decrease fractures. Consume 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day. Good sources of calcium are calcium supplements such as Tums; fruit juices and breads; low-fat dairy products; green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach greens; almonds; and soy milk.
  • Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and stimulates bone formation. Consume 800 to 1,000 IUs of vitamin D3 a day to up to 2,000 IU daily.
  • Eat foods low in sodium, low in animal protein and low in caffeine.
  • Bone mass is built before menopause as a result of exercise, diet and genetics. Exercises that increase bone mass make the muscles work against gravity. Walking and muscle-building exercises may reduce bone loss and fractures and improve balance.

Preventing Heart Disease

  • Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, including soy food. Limit salt, cholesterol and fat, especially animal fat.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.
  • Take a vitamin supplement. Choose one that contains antioxidants, including vitamins E and C.
  • Take one baby aspirin daily, if approved by your physician if over age 65. Note: Do not take ibuprofen and aspirin together.

For more information, see Dr. Holly L. Thacker’s book, "The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause." Dr. Thacker is the executive director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the director of the Center for Specialized Women's Health.