Wendy Hoffman blogs about menopause and women's health—particularly focusing on how diet and nutrition can positively affect a woman's life around the age of menopause.See all posts »
How to Make the Menopause Journey Easier
As we approach the final weeks of this year, and as I wind up my blog on Healthline this week, I thought it would be a good time to look back at my previous columns and see whether the information and data I reported on still holds up. It seems that every week a new study is announced that suggests a better way to eat, exercise, or take supplements. It’s nearly a full time job to monitor the latest research and read about new breakthroughs. Hopefully, you’ve found my blog here on Healthline to be a reliable digest of the latest thinking about women’s health in midlife.
Figuring out what’s best for our health now and in the long run is a shifting game. We could rely on sheer common sense; eat balanced meals, exercise, stay connected socially, and live a balanced life to alleviate stress. But for some reason, so many of us take our good health for granted and we veer off course in a way that often results in illness or disease.
Until women reach their mid-forties (or younger for some women), when we begin to feel the symptoms of fluctuating hormone levels, it’s easy to ignore our bodies. Every thing is working just as it should. We lose weight when we diet and exercise. We sleep when we’re tired. We still have a libido and enjoy sex.
But our bodies eventually let us know that internal changes are happening. We can’t sleep. We’re irritable. It’s hard to stay focused on tasks. And our bodies’ thermostat is going haywire. It takes a while to figure out what’s happening, but along the way, we learn how to take better care of ourselves. There’s too much at stake not to.
In surveying the last six months of blogposts, I’ve covered a lot of ground - hot flashes, sleep disorders, nutrition, and lots about exercise. And yes, the topics I covered still offer sound guidance that you can rely upon. But if you asked me to pick just three things that women should do for themselves to make the menopause journey just a bit easier, this is how I would respond:
- Find a doctor who will be able to allocate enough time to listen and talk with you and who has a special interest in women’s mid-life health. You may have to add a specialist to your “posse” of health care providers that you regularly see.
- Conquer the sleep problem. If you’re only getting five to six hours of sleep most nights, you’re depriving yourself of good health now and for years to come. Strive for seven to eight hours a night.
- Finally, think long term. And be good to yourself. How you treat yourself now will influence the quality of your life in later years. Eat quality foods. Exercise often to maintain strength, flexibility and balance. Know your numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, blood pressure, body mass index score, waist circumference) and make the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve optimal ranges.