You’re in your late 40s or early 50s, your period is a bit irregular, and every once in a while you feel flushed. The perimenopausal stage, the transition into menopause, can last for months or even years.
Whether you’ve just started to notice the signs, or you’ve been living with them for a while, you need to know two things: Your symptoms are perfectly normal, and they’re treatable.
Dr. James Y. Lee and our team at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care in Woodstock, Georgia, understand the physical, mental, and emotional changes that come with menopause. As an osteopathic physician, he treats more than just your symptoms, he treats you.
That may sound like a subtle difference, but when you receive osteopathic care, you realize that there’s a huge difference in the approach. Dr. Lee considers how all of your body’s systems work together in harmony, and he recognizes that a problem in one area may be the cause of a problem in another.
When it comes to women’s health, Dr. Lee’s keen eye for interconnected bodily functions and his expertise in treating medical conditions holistically and conservatively mean that you can transition into and through menopause with a minimal need for drugs.
As part of his osteopathic approach, Dr. Lee teaches menopausal women how to ease their own symptoms through simple strategies, self-awareness, and prevention techniques. Here are a few of the tips he gives our patients.
1. Control your temperature
Hot flashes, a classic menopause symptom, can hit suddenly. Although you can’t predict when or where they will happen, you can count on them catching you off guard at the most inconvenient moments.
You can take some control back by preparing yourself for the inevitable. If you know hot flashes are one of your menopausal symptoms, plan for them. Dress in layers so you can peel them off when you get warm.
Carry a small, battery-operated fan in your purse to cool yourself down in a flash. And keep in mind that what you eat and drink can trigger a hot flash, so avoid spicy foods, hot foods, alcohol, and caffeine when you’re trying to prevent a hot flash.
Hot flashes at night, called night sweats, also plague many menopausal women. If you're one of them, do yourself a favor and wear pajamas made of a breathable fabric, keep your room cool, and opt for thin blankets rather than thick comforters.
2. Manage your moods
Not everyone experiences mood swings during menopause, but if you do, there’s good news: you have the power to keep them at bay. The shift in your hormones is causing you to feel a roller coaster of emotions, similar to when you went through puberty. So fight back by exercising and flooding your body with “feel good” hormones.
When you get your heart rate up for at least 50 minutes a day and at least four times a week, the endorphins you generate counteract the mood swings, and may also alleviate some of your other symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
3. Sleep well
Menopause makes it hard to sleep, and when you don’t sleep well, it exacerbates all of your other symptoms. Clearly, protecting the quality and quantity of your slumber ranks high.
If you incorporate exercise to ease your mood swings and hot flashes, you’re doing double duty, because physical activity also promotes healthy sleep hygiene.
Getting rid of mental and emotional stress can also help. Learn to decline unnecessary obligations, and practice mindful breathing techniques to help you relax.
A bedside diffuser with lavender oil, and anything else that makes your bedroom a dreamy sanctuary (read: no electronics), may help you drift off to slumberland.
4. Stay lubricated
As your estrogen production wanes, so does the natural lubrication “down there.” If sex has suddenly become uncomfortable — or even painful, you can blame vaginal dryness.
In addition to a lack of moisture, you may also be battling vaginal atrophy, a condition that thins out the skin inside your vagina and makes it loose, saggy, and prone to tugging and tearing.
Dr. Lee can recommend several effective products that restore moisture and relieve painful intercourse. Ditch your scented soaps and bubble baths, as these can contribute to the problem as well.
5. Ask for help
Although there’s a lot you can do on your own to ease the symptoms of menopause, if they become too severe for at-home remedies, Dr. Lee can help. If he determines you’re a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy, he offers plant-based bioidentical hormones.
These are molecularly identical to the hormones you produce naturally, so your body can’t tell the difference. This lowers the chance of side effects compared with synthetic hormones.
To learn more about holistic treatments for menopause symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Lee at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care today. Call us at 770-927-8273 or book an appointment online.