Menopause affects every woman differently. For many, this transition is marked by symptoms like irregular periods, hot flashes, sweating, sleep disturbances, mood swings, irritability, joint and back pain and more.
“Indian women typically go through menopause early, at the average age of 46.2 years, five years earlier than in western nations.[i] Hormonal changes begin even earlier during perimenopause or the time around menopause, which lasts four years or even up to a decade.[ii] During this period, 80% of women are affected by menopausal symptoms. A holistic approach to managing this phase can help women relieve the discomfort and stay healthy,” said Dr. Jaideep Malhotra, past president of the Indian Menopause Society & South Asian Federation of Menopause Societies.
Preparing for this phase – like we do for important milestones in our lives, from job interviews to parenthood – is the key to a healthier life. Here are 4 broad steps you can follow to manage menopause better:
Maintain a balanced diet
Good nutrition is a game changer for managing menopause symptoms from hot flashes to bloating. Foods to include and to avoid in your diet are:
Fruits and vegetables: These are full of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs. You cannot go wrong with seasonal vegetables and fresh fruits.
Fibre-rich foods and foods rich in calcium & vitamin D: High-fibre foods like leafy greens, kidney beans, and whole grains can also support better health. Dairy products and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good sources of nutrition.
Fatty meats & processed foods: Fast or fried foods, processed snacks and meats are high in sodium, making you feel bloated. These foods can also affect cholesterol levels or increase your risk of heart disease. Also, spicy food may trigger symptoms like hot flashes.
Alcohol: Moderation is key. Regular alcohol consumption can lead to amplified menopausal symptoms, problems sleeping, and heightened mental health issues.
Caffeine: A caffeine kick makes you more likely to have hot flashes. Resorting to alternative warm drinks is suggested.
As your body changes, regular movement can help you stay healthy and strengthen your bones, boost your mood, and counter symptoms such as weight gain. Some activities you can try include:
Cardio: Aerobic activities or cardio include endurance activities that encourage you to use your large muscles. You can start with 10 minutes a day of brisk walking, jogging, swimming, running, cycling, or even dancing, and build up the intensity as you go.[iii]
Strength training: Lifting dumbbells or using weight machines can help strengthen your muscles and bones, while also reducing body fat.[iv]
Yoga: Yoga poses – from restorative and supportive to power yoga – are also a good source of targeted symptom relief, helping relax the body. Paired with meditation or breathing exercises, these can also prompt relaxation and mindfulness.
Hormonal changes during perimenopause or menopause can impact emotional and mental health. Women going through this phase may experience symptoms such as lack of sleep, anxiety, lack of motivation, fatigue stress or depression. Most of the symptoms can be managed through lifestyle changes. Exercise, healthy food habits, staying hydrated, relaxation techniques for sound sleep may help ease these symptoms. Find what works for you and set realistic, attainable goals.
Consult with a doctor
Good health helps avoid co-morbid conditions, which menopausal women are at greater risk of developing, such as osteoporosis and heart disease. There are also many treatment options available to ease menopausal symptoms, including menopausal hormonal therapy, which can help maintain your body’s estrogen levels and manage symptoms.[v] It’s always advisable to consult your doctor in case you have symptoms that are affecting you.
“Menopause is a time of transition for women, which can prove challenging. At Abbott, believe it is vital to raise awareness on the physical, mental and overall emotional aspects of menopause, so that women can seek the help they may need and live this life stage fully. At the same time, we partner with healthcare professionals to share therapy best practices and change how we address women experiencing menopause, to support women holistically, beyond physical symptoms,” said Dr. Jejoe Karankumar, Medical Director, Abbott India.
Consult your doctor to find out what can help alleviate your symptoms so you can sail through this phase with ease.