In the first part of this series, How to go through Menopause with grace, we covered the definition of menopause and the common symptoms of menopause.
In this second series, we will be focusing on how to manage symptoms of Menopause.
Managing the symptoms of Menopause
The decline in the female hormones, oestrogen and progestogen is the cause of the symptoms experienced during Menopause. Replacing these hormones will improve these symptoms.
Hormone Replacement therapy
HRT is a replacement of the female hormones that are lost when women go through menopause.
HRT contains two different hormones, oestrogens and progestogens. Oestrogen-only therapy is recommended for women who have had their wombs removed.
Women with wombs must have both oestrogen and progestogen therapy to prevent the risk of developing cancer of the womb. So, you must let your health care professional know your past medical history so that you can be offered the appropriate type of HRT.
HRT is available in many different presentations such as tablets, skin patches, gels, vaginal cream or pessaries. It’s a matter of choice for the type chosen by women. However, women who suffer from migraines or at high risk of blood clots are advised to use the HRT skin patches. These are known to have lesser risks of blood clots than the oral HRT
What are the health benefits of HRT?
- Improves Hot flushes
- It prevents the weakening of the bones ( osteoporosis), which can cause an increased risk of bone fractures.
- It improves poor sleep and brain fog.
- It improves vaginal dryness and overactive bladder symptoms.
Despite all the many benefits of HRT, it is not without risks. The risks associated with HRT include breast cancer, blood clots and stroke.
For most women, HRT is a safe option. To know if this is safe for you, you need to see your health professional, who will evaluate your risk based on your medical and family history.
For high-risk women who cannot take HRT, there are non-hormonal alternatives to HRT; you will need to discuss this with your health professional.
Managing bladder symptoms
Menopausal women are prone to recurrent bladder infections due to decreased oestrogen, causing thinning of the vaginal walls ( vaginal atrophy ). Vaginal atrophy is also known to increase susceptibility to infections.
Decreased oestrogen levels can also lead to weakness of the muscles that support the bladder, and this can lead to leakage of urine (urinary incontinence).
Oestrogen vaginal cream or pessary will improve vaginal atrophy and recurrent bladder infections.
Other treatment options for bladder symptoms
- Improve your hydration by drinking enough fluids all through the day
- Limit acidic foods that can cause bladder irritation, e.g. of such foods are grapefruits, oranges and tomatoes. Coffee is also known to cause bladder irritation.
Pelvic floor exercises ( Kegel exercises )
These are a series of exercises to strengthen the muscles around the bladder, vagina and buttocks. Toning and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can improve a weak bladder, womb prolapse, and orgasm during sex.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
- Pretend as if you are urinating and then hold the urine. The muscles you tighten when you hold your urine are your pelvic muscles.
- It would be best if you emptied your bladder before you do your pelvic floor exercises.
- Practice tightening and relaxing pelvic muscles in quick succession; repeat this 3 to 5 times a day.
There are many free apps on the apple and google play stores that can show you how to do your pelvic floor exercises.
Managing sleep disturbances (Insomnia)
Sleep disturbance is very common during perimenopause and menopause due to a combination of factors, including a decline in oestrogen and progestogen, leading to hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety and depressed moods. Also, the sleep hormone known as melatonin decreases with age.
HRT will help with sleep disturbances by helping to improve the symptoms of night sweats and hot flushes
Other treatment options for sleep disturbance
- Relaxation techniques: Warm bath, scented candles, worship music
- Dark, quiet and cool rooms
- Avoid bright lights in rooms such as laptops, phones, TVs
- Avoid stimulants at bedtimes, such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Try herbal drinks such as chamomile tea.
Managing mood disturbances
Mood disturbances are common during menopause; some women already have underlying anxiety and depression; this can become exaggerated during menopause. It’s important to be aware of this and to seek help early. Please check out our post on 15 ways to lift yourself up when you’re down
Ways to manage mood disturbances include :
- Talking therapies, Counselling, Cognitive behavioural therapies etc. (You can access these services via your health care professional).
- Regular physical exercises release certain hormones known as endorphins which can stimulate the mood.
- Relaxation techniques such as cool worship music, warm bath.
- Use of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors ( SSRIs).
Managing sexual discomfort
Sexual discomfort during menopause is common, but most women choose not to disclose this to their health professionals and prefer to suffer in silence. There is help available, and there is an effective treatment for most sexual dysfunction during menopause.
Use water-soluble lubricants. Avoid alcohol or perfumed based lubricants because of the risk of vaginal irritation.
Vaginal moisturizers and topical HRT will help to alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by vaginal atrophy.
Regular sex will improve blood flow to the genital area, improving the pain caused by atrophy and dryness.
The menopause transition is inevitable, Some of us are already there. Grace is available to make this a positive experience.
Join us for the next Menopause series on the Facts versus the truths about Menopause.
Have you been affected by menopause? Leave a comment below.
Thank you for stopping by today.