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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Self-help advice for managing menopausal symptoms

Medication may not be necessary if you've reached the menopause and don't have severe symptoms.
Many women are able to ease their menopausal symptomsby making simple changes to their lifestyle and diet.
It can be easy to put on weight during the menopause because your muscle mass will decrease, which means your body may need less calories.
Therefore, eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly will help you avoid putting on extra weight.

Diet

During the menopause, the amount of calcium in your bones will decrease due to a fall in oestrogen. Women who aren't using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which contains oestrogen, are particularly at risk.
A balanced diet, including all the food groups, will help keep your bones healthy. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and a small amount of dairy, such as low-fat milk and yoghurt, will provide a good supply of calcium.
Other healthy eating tips to ensure good bone and heart health before, during and after the menopause include:
The British Dietetic Association (BDA)  has produced a food fact sheet (PDF, 531kb) that provides more information and advice about eating healthily during the menopause.

Exercise

As well as eating a healthy diet, regular exercise also plays a crucial part in ensuring you remain healthy both during and after the menopause.
Maintaining muscle mass and bone strength are two key areas for menopausal women. This means your exercise programme should include aerobic activities, such aswalking, running, cycling and swimming, as well as strength and flexibility exercises.
Aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Read more about the physical activity guidelines for adults.
If you have osteoporosis (brittle bones), it may be recommended that you avoid high impact activities. This is because of the increased risk of falling and fracturing your bones. Your GP can give you more advice about the type of exercise that's suitable for you.
Read more about exercise and bone health.

Easing hot flushes and night sweats

Below is some advice that may help ease hot flushes and night sweats, as well as reducing sleep problems and mood changes.
To improve hot flushes and night sweats you should:
  • take regular exercise (see above)
  • wear light clothing
  • keep your bedroom cool at night
  • avoid potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol
To reduce sleep problems, avoid exercising late in the day and go to bed at the same time every night. Read more about insomnia.
To improve mood swings, make sure you get plenty of rest, as well as getting regular exercise. Activities such asyoga and tai chi can help you relax.

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