Healthy aging: Finding relief from menopause symptoms
Hot flashes are the most common menopause symptom. But many women report trouble sleeping, vaginal changes, mood swings, urinary symptoms, and more. During menopause, you may not have every symptom, or some may be minor. However, if symptoms start to interrupt your daily life, it’s time to find relief.
Get to know some of the options you have to better manage your menopause symptoms. Then, talk to your OB GYN to decide what’s right for you.
One option for symptom relief is menopausal hormone replacement (MHT). This type of treatment comes in many forms, including pills, patches, creams, implants, or gels. And there are different types of hormones used in different MHT therapies.
The treatment you and your doctor chose will depend on your specific symptoms, health, and lifestyle. For example, if your main symptom is vaginal dryness, a low-dose vaginal cream or gel may be suggested. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with multiple symptoms or hot flashes, you may need a different form of therapy or a higher dose.
If you decide to go this route, the FDA says it’s important to use the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time needed. That’s because some studies have shown a link between long-term hormone therapy and an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, or breast cancer.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, the FDA has approved two non-hormonal medications to help ease menopause symptoms. One option is a low-dose selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This antidepressant is approved to treat hot flashes. Another drug, called ospemifene, helps relieve issues with painful sex during menopause.
If you’re having vaginal discomfort due to dryness, you also might consider a vaginal moisturizer or lubricant. You can find these over-the-counter products at your local pharmacy.
When it comes to other non-hormonal options, The National Institute on Aging says to be cautious with “natural” or unproven treatments for menopause. The effectiveness and safety of some herbs and supplements are still unclear. Before you start taking them, talk to your OB GYN.
In some cases, small changes to your exercise, diet, or sleep habits can also help you manage menopause discomforts. The North American Menopause Society suggests non-medication options like:
- Deep breathing, massage, or other relaxing activities to help with mood changes
- Sleeping in lighter clothes, using ice packs, or adding a fan near your bed to help with night sweats
- Reducing acidic drinks or caffeine in your diet to avoid bladder irritation that can contribute to urine leaks
- Trying Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles for better urine control
- Focusing on a consistent bedtime routine and sleep environment to help you wind down and sleep better
Even if you take a medication for menopause, adding some of these changes to your daily routine can support your well-being too. So talk with your OB GYN about all of your options. Your doctor is there to help you keep menopause symptoms under control and stay healthy for this next stage of life.