1. Quit smoking
Studies have found that women who smoke tend to get earlier menopause, have worse hot flushes, and don’t respond as well to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) pills.
2. Ask your doctor
“No woman should be suffering from menopausal symptoms in this day and age,” said Dr Joshua Matambo, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Mediclinic Newcastle. “It is important to discuss your concerns with your healthcare professional so that the appropriate lifestyle changes and therapeutic options – which do not necessarily include hormone replacement therapy – can be started.”
3. Keep a diary
Certain things – like caffeine, alcohol, hunger, or (of all things) hot rooms – can trigger hot flushes. Keep a diary of your possible triggers and find ways to work around them.
4. Protect your hair
Bad news: your hair could start thinning or shedding. Good news: look, it’s not much of a consolation, but at least there are products that can help you save what you have. Avoid colouring products which have harsh chemicals, and stay out of the sun, which could dry and damage your hair.
5. Zap your zits
As if the headaches and hot flushes weren’t enough, acne is another common complaint during menopause. Switch to gentler cosmetics and moisturisers, which won’t clog your pores. Words to look for on the packaging are ‘non-comedogenic’ and ‘non-acnegenic’.
6. Keep your cool
Hot flushes at night are known, in some cases, to last a couple of minutes. Keep cool by switching to thinner pyjamas and lighter blankets and use a bedside fan to keep the room temperature down.
7. Involve your partner
Although the health problems may be personal, you shouldn’t try to do this on your own. Dr Matambo has some sound advice for any woman who’s suffering from menopause. “I always advise my patients to come with their husband or partner so that they can also express their concerns, as well as be involved in the informed decision making,” he said.
8. Get plenty of rest
Your sleeping patterns might take a knock – and that could lead to bad moods and bad migraines. Getting some exercise will help you sleep better at night, even if it’s just a walk during the day. You may want to talk to your GP about sleeping pills. If you do, ask for short-term remedies. You don’t want to add more meds to your mix.
9. Manage your moods
Menopause is what happens when your body stops producing eggs (biologists think it’s there to help prevent women having dangerous late-life pregnancies). But while your periods are ending, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is going down swinging. If you had bad PMS, your body’s hormonal changes during menopause might cause even bigger mood swings. Ask your gynae or GP about low-dose birth control pills or antidepressants (or alternatives) to help manage those mood swings.