There is a natural decline in reproductive hormones when a woman reaches her 40 and 50’s. Menopause is signalled by 12 months since last menstruation. When a woman goes through menopause, she faces some health and sleep changes. It starts in the late 40s or early 50s and lasts for a couple of years. More than 70 per cent of women experience menopause symptoms like mood swings, hot flushes, tiredness, irritability, and night sweats. Also, women going through menopause are vulnerable to diseases like obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. Dr Reena Khandelwal, Consultant Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Apollo Cradle Royale, New Delhi suggests ways to deal with these problems and how to start reinforcing some health and sleep changes.
Here are some areas where you should pay extra attention:
- Prepare a menstrual calendar for determining what is normal and what is not. If you see any abnormal bleeding, refer to a doctor immediately.
- Menopause makes you vulnerable to osteoporosis. Try some bone-strengthening exercises.
- If you don’t pay attention to your diet and exercise, you will see abdomen fat gain around menopause. This extra weight around your abdomen increases the risk of heart disease.
- Urinary incontinence is common during menopause. You can try Kegel or pelvic floor muscle exercises for improving this. This includes contracting and relaxing muscles controlling urine flow.
- Avoid stress, smoking, and overexposure to sunlight. This will help you maintain healthy skin. Also, drink lots of water, get adequate sleep, exercise properly, and avoid soapy, hot showers.
- You need to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush and floss daily. Make regular visits to the dentist and get professional dental cleaning at least twice a year. Studies have shown that gum disease can increase the risk of heart disease.
- Apart from the above-mentioned, you should manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, reduce stress, improve nutrition, maintain a healthy weight, and try to prevent diabetes.
Relaxation Techniques: - Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, rhythmic exercise and other activities that reduce stress.
Apart from these health issues, menopause can also cause sleep problems. Some women try Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for treating these symptoms once consulting your doctor.
Remember to consult your doctor before taking any medications. Apart from the medications, you can try the following to help you stay cool at night and sleep better:
- Wear loose clothes preferably made of natural fibres. Cotton is the recommended clothing.
- Make sure that your room is ventilated properly so that it remains cool.
- Do not eat foods that can cause sweating, especially just before going to bed.
- Follow a regular bedtime routine.
- Exercise daily but not before going to bed.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Don’t take naps during the daytime.
- Ask your doctor to prescribe some sleeping medications.
- Empty your bladder before going to sleep.
There are some alternative treatment options. For example, you can try soy products like soybeans and tofu. These contain phytoestrogen, a plant hormone that is like a weak estrogen. Research has shown that soy products can reduce hot flashes. More research needs to be done in this.
It is important to remember that menopause is a natural stage of a woman’s life. It's a time where there are different health risks. It is important to take the right steps for protecting their health. But with a little focus on your sleep and overall health can help you survive the menopause smoothly....