Ten ways to breeze through the menopause

Jane Murphy / 18 February 2016

Find out what you can do to reduce menopause symptoms and ensure you're as happy and healthy as possible.



Related: 10 post-menopause positives

1. How smoking affects the menopause

Yes, it's the advice that appears in every health feature – and with good reason. Smokers tend to have an earlier menopause, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania.

Smoking can also worsen hot flushes – possibly due to the effects of nicotine, say researchers at the University of Maryland. And smokers often don't respond as well as non-smokers to some forms of hormone replacement therapy. Continue to smoke and you'll also be putting yourself at increased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. For support with giving up, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.

Related: Your stop smoking guide

2. Cut down on alcohol

In fact, it's a good idea to cut out booze completely. (Now, don't pull that face!) Alcohol is a common trigger for hot flushes and can encourage other symptoms, such as headaches and mood swings.

It's also 'empty calories'. A medium glass of wine, for example, is nutritionally worthless and contains up to 160 calories – the same as a slice of Madeira cake. Being overweight can exacerbate many menopause symptoms, as well as put you at increased risk of serious illness.

Related: How to tackle embarrassing menopause symptoms

3. Work up a sweat

Taking regular exercise may hold the key to keeping your weight in check, as well as regulating your mood.

What's more, it can reduce the amount and intensity of hot flushes, according to a study from Liverpool John Moores University: women who stuck to a gym-based fitness regime for four months experienced significantly fewer hot flush symptoms.

Related: Hot flushes and sweats – solutions for coping

4. Take up yoga

Regular yoga can reduce hot flushes and improve concentration, sleep and pain levels, says a University of Washington review.

Other studies have highlighted the link between yoga and stress relief, in particular. A 2010 study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that menopausal women who embarked on a 12-week yoga regime saw modest improvements in sleep quality, stress and anxiety levels and overall enjoyment of life.

Related: Natural treatments for menopause symptoms

5. Eat your five-or-more-a-day

...and cut down on saturated fats and sugar. Aside from the overall health and wellbeing boost you'll experience, weight loss stemming from a balanced diet that's low in fats and high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help to reduce or eliminate hot flushes and night sweats, says a study from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in the US.

Related: 10 ways to eat less sugar

6. Eat more soya

Soya beans contain natural compounds called isoflavones, which mimic the effects of oestrogen so may help rebalance hormone levels during and after the menopause.

Eating a soya-rich diet can protect against bone weakening and osteoporosis, says a study from the University of Hull. And research, at the University of Delaware, found that two daily servings of soya can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes by up to 26 per cent.

Related: Best treatments for menopause symptoms

7. Sleep well

Around one-third of perimenopausal women suffer insomnia, according to a US study. But as well as cutting down on alcohol, eating a healthy diet and taking steps to manage stress, there are plenty of little things you can do to reduce your risk.

A few examples? Aim to go to bed at the same time each night; switch off the TV and all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime; keep your bedroom cool, use cotton sheets and and wear lighter clothes in bed to prevent night sweats.

Related: Try these strategies for getting a better night’s sleep

8. Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine can trigger and worsen hot flushes and night sweats, according to research from the Mayo Clinic. And because it's a stimulant, it can also contribute to insomnia, irritability and mood swings.

Aim to limit your intake of caffeine throughout the day, and steer clear of caffeinated drinks completely in the evenings.

Related: How tea and coffee affect your health

9. Maintain your friendships

Menopause-related health challenges – and mood swings in particular – mean many of us become less tolerant and find it more of a chore to maintain friendships.

One theory is that falling levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin may partly be to blame. But a University of Michigan study found that emotional closeness between female friends boosts levels of the hormone progesterone, which reduces anxiety and stress. So make the effort to stay in touch – and remember, we're all in it together!

Related: Got the moody blues? Find out more about mood swings in women

10. Don't just ignore it

...and hope it'll go away. If you're finding it difficult to cope with menopausal symptoms of any kind, do speak to your GP as soon as possible. The sooner you address the problem, the sooner you'll get it under control.

Related: The different types of hormone therapy available

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.