Menopause: five self-help tips

The menopause can make you feel as if you're not in control of your own body, but there are ways to ease the symptoms.

Keep cool

Hot flushes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of the menopause. They're caused by a malfunction in the body’s normal methods of temperature control. They can occur even before your periods have stopped but are most common in the first year after the last period.

To ease hot flushes and night sweats:

  • Wear lighter clothing.
  • Keep your bedroom cool at night.
  • Do more exercise
  • Try to reduce your stress levels.
  • Avoid potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol.

Try to relax

Psychological symptoms can include feeling down, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, tiredness and lack of energy. However, this time in a woman’s life can also be stressful due to parents' ageing and loss of independence, death of parents or relatives, divorce or ‘empty nest syndrome’ when children leave home. Therefore, it can be difficult to tell if your psychological symptoms are a direct result of the menopause.

The following tactics can help improve your mood:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • regular exercise
  • relaxation exercises such as yoga

Try these relaxation tips.

Sleep well

Restful sleep will help you cope with night sweats and other menopausal symptoms. Improve your sleep by:

  • avoiding exercise within two hours of bedtime
  • going to bed at the same time every night

Here's 10 ways to get a better night's sleep.

Get some exercise

There's evidence that women who are more active tend to suffer less from the symptoms of the menopause. Exercise is important not only for the relief of short-term symptoms but also to protect your body from heart disease and osteoporosis.

Exercise will help keep your bones and the muscles that support them strong. It will also increase your flexibility and mobility, which will in turn improve your balance.

The benefits of exercise in preventing bone loss and fractures are well known. It is thought that the best kind of activities are aerobic, sustained and regular. Brisk walking about three times a week is a cheap, easy and great way to start exercising.

Read more about how walking is good for your health.

Stop smoking

Women who smoke have an earlier menopause than non-smokers, have worse flushes and often don't respond as well to tablet forms of HRT. It’s never too late to stop smoking.

Find out how the NHS can help you stop smoking.

Page last reviewed: 18/09/2012

Next review due: 18/09/2014

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The 8 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

100shoeswomen said on 25 April 2014

I agree with the lady who left the comment saying that the menopause is not teached. It's almost like a taboo subject I thought great I can't wait to stop my monthly and 49ys young and started getting hot flushes a last year a year while on mthly no one ever spoke about the cold chills that you get as we'll has the hot flushes (not to mention wanting to open the windows wide at night and having the fan on all night long and your husband saying your not sleeping with the fan or the windows open men don't understand how painic stricken you feel dare I speak to soon the hot flushes seem to have eased a bit for 3 days my last was in January this year I saw my doctor on Tuesday proscribed me premak-c but the fact that she had to look into her book all the time I was there I thought no way am I taking them I did say to her plz I don't want tablets ( I'm taking 9 daily).

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Fiftypluss said on 04 March 2014

After reading the comments below I'm starting to realise it's not just me. I'm 51 and have been struggling for about 3 years, mainly with anxiety, low moods so much so my doctor prescribed Fluoxetine for depression.i have felt a lot better taking these however, I still have black days, my hot flushes are more frequent which bring on terrible nightmares. My loss of memory can be frustrating in work hence writing memos everywhere.. in my mind I'm still 21 but the tiredness tells me not.. Being able to read about other peoples symptoms helps you realise you are not going mad, but how do you explain it in the workplace, you don't want t admit you are getting older & you see other people near your age coping ok, or so they say... I do feel at times that I'm always moaning that then gives me a complex about myself, in my confidence etc.. I started to believe at first that I was suffering from depression, but now after reading about other people I'm starting to understand the menopause . Any tips on getting my confidence back..? & dealing with constant tiredness..?

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Lemon queen said on 16 October 2013

Just reading the comments below has made me feel better! I've been struggling for about a year with so many strange things happening to my mind and body that I really thought I was losing the plot. My mood swings are the most difficult thing to deal with. I can be riding the crest of a wave one day and at the bottom of a dark pit the next, but so unpredictable. I have amazing GPs who are incredibly supportive of my decision not to take antidepressants, even though they clearly feel this would be the next best thing for me. They give me double appointments now because I sit there crying for half the time! I am on HRT - evorel patches and Minerva coil. This has helped with the temperature control, but has had little effect on mood swings. I also have the acid reflux mentioned below, generally feeling unwell most of the time, exhaustion, aches and pains, it feels endless! I've had endless infections this summer which have left me completely drained and makes dealing with the hormonal swings even more difficult. Rather than taking herbal type remedies for menopause, I'm taking general health supplements such as vitamins, Metatone tonic, and aloe vera to try and boost my immune system and rebalance my system having been on 6 courses of antibiotics in 5 months. I feel that if I can get my general health under control then I will be better able to deal with the menopause. I also have vitamin B12 issues. I don't smoke, don't drink, don't take drugs (unless prescribed!) and rarely drink coffee or fizzy drinks. I have a healthy, home cooked diet which is well balanced and a very caring and supportive husband - btw interesting comment below about sex drive - mine is better than it used to be, want it more, it's just that I'm always bleeding! It's incredibly difficult, but with support we can all get through it. As I write it has stopped raining and the sun has come out so I'm off for a walk. It's apparently good for me! Keep strong everyone.

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Gettingthroughit said on 26 April 2013

My menopause was as severe as it possibly could be. People are not educated enough about this. Everyone should be prepared for this phase in life.
I was really ill through the menopause, but I'm now getting through it.
Number one thing that alleviated my symptoms was cutting out all forms of caffeine. This means switching to de-caffeinated tea, coffee and not eating chocolate in any form or drinking coke or fizzy drinks. Do this and you will start to feel better.
I would not take HRT but I tried red clover. This is very expensive to buy (novogen was the only one that worked) but did help.
Cut out alcohol and stop smoking. Drink plenty of water.
Prescription medication can have side effects which make the menopause work. Beta blocker tablets I took made me very depressed and symptoms eased immediately when the cardiologist agreed to take me off them (I had no heart arrythmyia before menopause). Go to GP and have your blood tested for underactive thyroid, as menopause can often trigger this.
Keep away, if you can, from people who have strong personalities and who wind you up! You need to protect yourself during this phase of your life as we are more emotionally vulnerable and volatile. If you're the kind of person who has always looked after others now is the time you need to look after yourself. Exercise if you can, it will help. It's common to have balance problems. Overheating and sweating is normal, drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated. Herbs like sage dont really work, you need to get out in the air. Lack of sleep leading to exhaustion is common. Try to nap when you can. You need support from your family to help do chores, shopping etc as these things can overwhelm you at this stage. Loss of blood in the later stages of perimenipause can be draining and lead to anemia. Take a good multivitamin supplement like centrum. Be prepared for it to last 8 years. Good luck.

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going mad said on 19 March 2013

my symptoms of the menopause are, headachy, cotton wool head, heartburn, gas, memory,concentration, irritable, emotional, nausia, tired. body temperature hot then cold. tired, hungry. i have been on seabuckthorn for about 2 yrs but thinking of stopping them as having no benefits from them. at the moment with the doctors guidance i have came off citalopram to see how i feel without them. it has been 3 weeks and all my symptoms are coming back. i think i might have to go back on them to see if they help. about 2yrs ago i was not well, feeling light headed sicky, tired, emotional, as if i was recovering from a bad flu. body ached all over and heart burn which i have never had. feeling hungry a lot. this lasted about 2 weeks and had this twice in one year. since i have stopped the citalopram i feel like this again. has any one felt like this at all. sometimes you feel is this the menopause or something else wrong. my foggy head and memory and concentration is not good. when i do any heavy phisical exercise i am so tired and feel ill after and so warm.

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Denny0612 said on 10 November 2011

My symptoms are occasional hot flushes but more often than not just body temperature fluctuations. One minute I feel hot all over me - as if it's middle of July - and need to walk around the house in shorts and T shirt (in October!!) and the next minute I'm donning a sweater and snuggling under a blanket - only to be pouring with sweat a few minutes after that and flinging everything off again. This isn't hot flushes, which come on very suddenly and affect your upper body - around the face, neck and chest. That's definitely something else entirely. At least my heating hasn't gone on yet - so I'll save a packet on the bills. I prefer it to be cold indoors and wear a jumper if I get cold so that I can cool off effectively and quickly if I feel hot again.

I've found that intensive aerobic exercise has helped keep my body temperature enormously (I haven't had flushes or temperature fluctuations since starting my Jane Fonda 80s fitness workout).

I also have difficulty concentrating on trivial things - like television programmes. Keep having to rewind to follow what is going on because my mind has wandered. I'm OK on serious stuff though.

I get tired too and now I'm getting acid heart burn and keep burping as well and feel windy, which isn't helping me want to exercise. I feel bloated too.

My sex drive has increased if anything, after years of it waning and it was hardly worth the bother having sex. Now orgasms are more intensive - nearly as they were before I started peri-M. So that's great.

Body weight is an issue. I exercise and cycle everywhere but my waist isn't shrinking - no matter how much exercise I do. Thankfully I'm tall so I can take more weight without looking more than medium build. But I hate not being able to lose weight as I used to. Having Hypothyroidism isn't helping either because pill thyroxine isn't as effective as body produced thyroid hormone for regulating your weight.

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luvbundle said on 30 August 2011

In 2003 I had a Thermal Ablation for fibroids which in itself was successful, since then I have experienced hot flushes right up until present day I am 61 now. I think I am past menopause and not on any HRT but have recently been experiencing sore and painful breasts, I do take part in the breast screening programme.
Can anyone tell me why am I getting breast pain if I am well over the menopause?

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Mukesh Raghav said on 08 October 2009

Really very nice and commendable article., but the views in social aspects defers.As far as Medical Science is concerned. yes, at one day or other Hypothalmo-pitutary-ovarian axis will diminish working and other hormones will take their place , hence post menopausal symptoms.
Thanks

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