Menopause is an inevitable experience in every woman’s life. Symptoms and physiological changes associated with menopause impact women’s quality of life during and after menopause. These symptoms and physiological changes are manageable. Managing them is key to a woman’s quality of life.
Menopausal symptoms can be managed.
There is an abundance of therapies to manage hot flashes during menopause.
Brain fog during menopause may improve with cognitive exercise and other therapies.
Many women experience vaginal dryness that can be relieved and managed during menopause.
Seek advice from a healthcare provider before beginning any therapy for menopausal symptoms.
Menopause and hot flashes
The most common and bothersome symptom associated with menopause is hot flashes. It isn’t just the hot flashes. It is the interrupted sleep, and daily discomfort hot flashes cause. A woman’s quality of life does not have to suffer because of hot flashes.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a standard therapy for menopausal symptoms. Not everyone can or wants to use HRT. Do not fret; there are other ways to manage hot flashes.
Clinical studies have been done on many complementary and alternative therapies (CMT). Two CMT show results similar to HRT. The rest – there is not enough data to support their claims.
Hypnosis and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) have similar results as HRT. CBT works on behavior. It uses appraisal and behavior to change symptoms. Hypnosis uses a very focused mental state, imagery, and suggestion to improve the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
If CBT and hypnosis do not pique your interest, other options exist. More ways to manage hot flashes show promise but require more research. Here are a few:
- Sage is available over-the-counter (OTC);
- Black cohosh;
- Evening primrose;
- St. John's wort;
This list is not all-inclusive. There are some off-label uses for treating hot flashes. Off-label means using a medication for a use other than its intended use. Sometimes this is a side effect that can be beneficial in different situations. Such an example would be gabapentin for hot flashes when it is not its intended use.
Be safe. The clinical evidence to support the claims that any of these therapies improve menopausal hot flashes is limited. Check with your healthcare provider before using any of these treatments.
Menopause and brain fog
What is brain fog? The term is being used more frequently to describe multiple symptoms. This includes memory loss, the inability to recall words, and difficulties with multitasking.
Memory studies look at later-aged individuals, but there is evidence that women tend to have memory loss earlier due to menopause.
Treatments for brain fog during menopause focus on memory loss. Which can also help with the loss of words. Again, the therapies are only recently studied, and there is insufficient data to support the claims.
Cognitive activities have been shown to improve memory loss. The data for this intervention is not conclusive. Pinpointing proof that cognitive activities are the cause of improved memory loss is tough. Data cannot support this. In the clinical studies showing improvement of memory loss, the evidence doesn’t show results are the direct result of cognitive activities.
Other ways to manage brain fog include:
- Neuroprotective diets;
- Improved sleep.
Menopause is not the only cause of these symptoms. Dementia can be seen as the culprit. Women who complain about these symptoms during menopause can be misdiagnosed with dementia.
If you are experiencing these menopausal symptoms, seek guidance from your healthcare provider. Ensure your healthcare provider is aware of your age and the possibility that you are experiencing menopause. Brain fog during menopause can be managed easily. Treatment for dementia is not the same.
Menopause vaginal dryness
Vaginal dryness is a very uncomfortable symptom of menopause. It can impact daily life as well as sexual function and intimacy. Vaginal dryness is associated with low estrogen levels. Estrogen levels decrease during menopause.
Treatment should begin at the start of symptoms and continue over time to maintain benefits. The most common treatment for vaginal dryness is hormone therapy. Hormone therapy can be delivered as an oral tablet, suppository, vaginal rings, or creams.
Also available to help with vaginal dryness are vaginal moisturizers and lubricants. Moisturizers are long-acting. Lubricants are short-acting. Identifying your needs will help you make the best selection for you.
Reflexology is another way to manage vaginal dryness during menopause. This form of massage focuses on the bottom of the foot. Rubbing areas of the foot will impact other areas of the body. Studies have shown improvement in vaginal dryness, but data is too limited to support the claims.
Both hypnosis and resistance training have been studied to improve sexual function during menopause. This does not necessarily mean that either of them improves vaginal dryness. Both can help with many menopausal symptoms. It may interest you to use hypnosis or resistance therapy, but it is best to discuss these with your healthcare provider.
Menopause symptoms can be bothersome and overwhelming. Do not be dismayed. These three common symptoms are manageable. They can be managed with pharmaceutical therapies and other therapies that are still being studied.
Before beginning any treatment of any menopausal symptom, it is most important to speak with your healthcare provider. Having that discussion can create a safe treatment plan tailored to you.
- Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine Complementary and alternative medicine for menopause
- Heliyon. Effectiveness of Menosan Salvia officinalis in the treatment of a wide spectrum of menopausal complaints. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial.
- Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Neuroprotective diets are associated with better cognitive function: The health and retirement study.
- Frontiers in Endocrinology. Addressing vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA)/genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) for healthy aging in women.