Between hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, menopause can make you feel like your hormones are staging a coup. While you might not be able to halt the uprising, you can bring calm, and find some relief in the process.
Eating a healthful diet, lowering your stress level, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are the best things you can do to ease your symptoms. In addition, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have handpicked a few products that can also help.
Chill Out With Stress Free Now
It’s 50 degrees outside, you’ve got the A/C cranked, you’re sweating through your T-shirt and your coworkers are fighting for control of the thermostat. Stress strikes when you feel powerless in the face of a difficult situation. And menopause certainly brings with it a whole new host of challenges…that you can learn to manage. The key: approaching them from a place of serenity. According to Thomas Morledge, MD, a practitioner at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, stress can aggravate the very symptoms of menopause that cause us stress in the first place. Talk about a catch-22.
Stress Free Now, an eight-week program developed by physicians at the Cleveland Clinic, teaches you relaxation techniques that have been shown to reduce hot flashes in women, Dr. Morledge explains. By getting your stress under control, you may be able to reduce the intensity and frequency of your hot flashes. Plus, the program can help you feel better about yourself and all of your day-to-day challenges, so when symptoms do strike, they won’t feel quite so overwhelming.
Try This: Stress Stree Now
The Joy of Soy
Menopausal symptoms like irritability, sweating, insomnia and vaginal dryness occur when female hormones like estrogen take a nosedive. Soy contains chemicals called isoflavones, which mimic estrogen. Adding 100 milligrams to your daily diet, by way of supplements, could help relieve symptoms and may be a safe alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Before you go jumping for soy, know this: Soy isoflavones don’t work for everyone, which is part of the reason why clinical trials have been so inconclusive, Dr. Morledge explains.
Though scientists are still trying to completely figure out why that is, one theory points to the type of bacteria in your gut. We don’t all digest soy isoflavones the same way. If they don’t get broken down into equol, a bacterial by-product of isoflavone, they may not provide relief. Another theory is related to the dose of the specific type of isoflavone (there are three major types) — the clinical trials have used different products containing various amounts. Though soy isoflavones are considered safe for most women, Dr. Morledge recommends discussing them — and all supplements — with your doctor before taking any.
Try This: Soy Isoflavones
Don’t Sweat It
Night sweats are about as comfortable as an appendectomy. Add a layer of drenched clothing to the mix and suddenly you’re hot and cold, sweating and shivering all at once. When your clothes get wet from perspiration, they stick against your skin and prevent your sweat from evaporating. The result: You’re wrapped in a clammy, cold mess, and your body can’t properly regulate its temperature to get you comfortable again.
Wicking fabrics are constructed of special weaves that pull the sweat off your skin so it can evaporate and allow the material to dry. They allow a layer of air to circulate between you and your clothes, so you stay dry and warm, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. While they might not be able to stop the sweats, they will bring you some comfort so you can sleep more easily through the night
Try This: Wicking Nightshirts and PJ Sets
Advice at Your Fingertips
There is so much information and misinformation out there about menopause, hormone replacement therapy and alternative therapies, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of it all. Written by one of the top women’s health physicians in the nation, “The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause” can help you sort the facts from the fiction and answer your questions when you need it. Though we encourage all patients to discuss concerns about their condition with their doctor, we recognize that it’s not always easy to schedule an appointment. With the average visit lasting just over 20 minutes, patients need to be organized and prepared to make sure their concerns are addressed. This go-to reference guide can help you understand the changes that occur during menopause and the best ways to deal with them.
Try This: “The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause“
Menopause can make for some long, restless nights. If you’re the type of sleeper who is always flipping her pillow over looking for a cool spot, you might want to try out the Chillow. Filled with a nontoxic chemical that stays cold without refrigeration, the Chillow is a padded pillow insert that keeps your face cool while you sleep. “It can make you more comfortable, but it’s not going to prevent hot flashes,” Dr. Morledge says. However, he explains, it may help you relax, which could help you sleep better.
Try This: Chillow Comfort Device
Get to the Root of the Matter
Relatively new to the American market, Estrovera, otherwise known as Siberian rhubarb extract, has been used in Germany for decades. The research, says Dr. Morledge, is remarkable. “Estrovera extract performed very well on a variety of menopausal symptoms, including anxiety, hot flashes, night sweats, and physical and mental exhaustion.” Like soy, Estrovera has phytoestrogen qualities, meaning it’s a plant that imitates the female hormone estrogen. According to results of a single clinical trial, taking one Estrovera pill a day may be as effective as hormone replacement therapy at reducing the number of daily hot flashes. A word of caution from Dr. Morledge: “Although this looks like a useful product, we need to wait for additional clinical trials to see if it’s as good as the initial study seems to suggest. On the other hand, it also appears to be very safe.” Always discuss new supplements with your doctor before taking them.
Try This: Estrovera