Achieving an optimal quality of life during the menopausal years is an important goal for both women and their healthcare providers. Be proactive! Take charge of your health and well-being. Healthy living is the key to getting the best out of your menopausal years.
- Eat well
Eat with your health in mind; take in adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong; limit your dietary intake of salt and fat to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels and overall cardiac health; moderate your intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Live better
Stop smoking; get adequate rest and adequate sleep; take time to enjoy nature, your family and your friends; minimize and, where possible, avoid stress; seek professional help if you'are having difficulty coping or you feel overwhelmed
- Exercise regularly
Maintain strong bones and joint mobility; increase your energy level; improve your mood; reduce insomnia
If you have problems managing the symptoms, a range of hormone based and non-hormonal and complementary therapies are available to help you.
- Hormone therapy (HT)
HT has been widely studied and used for more than 50 years by millions of women. Hormone therapy remains the single, most effective treatment for moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms. However, in 2002, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) released a report stating that risks such as breast cancer, heat disease and stroke were increased in women taking HT. In recent years, a number of studies have demonstrated that the WHI results require further scrutiny and that HT may by a practical consideration for some patients, depending on other facors. A woman who is considering HT must compare its potential benefits to its potential risks. Acceptable risk depends on your individual circumstances. Your decision will be largely influenced by the severity of y our menopause-related symptoms, your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer and your personal health. To learn more about your HT options, talk to your healthcare professional.
- Bioidentical hormone therapy
The term "bioidentical hormone therapy" began as a marketing term for custom-compounded hormones. The term now usually refers to compounds that have the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the body, the definition that the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) uses. Bioidentical hormones do not have to be custom-compounded (meaning custom mixed). There are many well-tested, FDA-approved hormone therapy products that meet this definition and are commercially available from retail pharmacies in a variety of doses that will allow you and your doctor to customize your therapy to meet your needs. See NAMS's website for details: http://www.menopause.org/publications/clinical-practice-materials/bioide...
- Non-hormonal therapy
If hormone therapy is not your option, your healthcare provider may suggest you to try some non-hormone based medications. These may include some antidepressant agents such as venlafaxine, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), as well as gabapentin (a drug used to treat various neurological disorders), clonidine (a medication used to treat high blood pressure, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders), and bellergal.
- Complementary and alternative therapies
Many women have been drawn to complementary and alternative therapies for relief from their menopausal symptoms. These include soy products, and a variety of herbals and botanicals, such as black cohosh and red clover. However, these products are neither rigorously tested nor approved and regulated by government bodies, and therefore may lack evidence of efficacy and safety. If you are considering using a complementary or alternative treatment option, discuss your options with your healthcare provider to determine if these are the best option for your specific medical needs.