Managing Menopause the Best You Can

By Susan LaScala Wood • Published 8/30/2023

illustration of a woman managing menopause the best she can

Just when you’ve started to get used to some of the challenges that come with getting older, menopause hits. And a whole new set of challenges appear — seemingly all at once. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. But before you raise the white flag, know that it’s not about winning the battle against menopause and aging, but managing menopause the best you can.

So, when it comes to menopause, what can you manage? Actually, more than you think. Here, we answer some of your (literally) burning questions.

Are hot flashes something I just have to live with?

Hot flashes are one of the most talked about menopause symptoms for a reason. Not only can they be extremely uncomfortable, but they can also be extremely embarrassing. While you can’t count on them to completely go away during this time, there are things you can do to make them a lot less disruptive, including:

  • Dress in layers that can be easily removed when a hot flash hits.
  • Carry a portable fan to help you quickly cool off.
  • Invest in bedding made from breathable fabrics.
  • Work towards maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Say no to cigarettes (or work towards quitting).
  • Talk with your doctor about the possibility of taking menopausal hormone therapy or any other approaches.

Will I ever want to have sex again?

Between a lowered libido and pain due to vaginal dryness, it’s easy to see why you might have your doubts. But a few helpful hints can help keep your sex life healthy and happy:

  • Invest in some personal lubricants. Try using a water-based lube to help provide relief from friction and more comfort.
  • Give moisturizers a try. Consider trying over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers that you can use regularly to replenish moisture all day long.
  • Have sex more often. Seriously! More frequent sex can help increase blood flow to the vulva.
  • Adapt sexual positions to find the ones that keep sex more pleasurable. Engaging in sex side-by-side can be a good place to start. Oral sex is also a great option, as you can totally avoid pain from friction.
a woman wearing headphones and taking deep breaths to help with the management of menopause mood swings

What can I do to manage menopause mood swings?

Changes in estrogen levels not only have some pretty challenging physical effects, but also some very real emotional ones. It may remind you of mood swings you experienced over the years due to hormonal changes during your period — only they’re on a lot more of an erratic schedule. Here are some things that may help with the management of menopause mood swings and may even help with feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and irritability:

  • Try to get a good night’s sleep (we know it can be hard!). You’ve probably heard this one before — and for good reason. Quality sleep has been proven to help people think clearer, cope better, and control emotions and behavior.
  • Get regular physical exercise. It can help reduce stress hormones in the body, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Additionally, exercise can increase serotonin, which promotes feelings of happiness and well-being.
  • Limit caffeine and sugar. Too much of either of these can have a negative effect on your nervous system.
  • Avoid smoking. While nicotine might result in immediate feelings of relaxation, research has shown it actually increases anxiety and tension. Of course, as you also well know, it increases all kinds of other health risks as well, including lung cancer.

Remember to always talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns.

Is menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) safe?

For years, there’s been a lot of fear — and misinformation — around this treatment option. Specifically, there is a concern about breast cancer risk. But more recently we’ve come to understand that the risk is dependent on the type of therapy you’re taking, your age, and other health factors. In fact, experts in the field agree that most healthy, perimenopausal women may benefit from MHT to help relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and bone loss. Of course, these benefits come with other benefits as well, such as improved sleep, sexual relations, and overall quality of life.

And with any medication or treatment, you and your doctor must weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks of this treatment. At the end of the day, your menopausal transition and experience is different from everyone else’s. Ultimately, the decision of whether to give MHT a try is up to you and your doctor to make. If you don’t have a menopause-trained clinician that you already see, consider setting up a telehealth visit with Versalie Care, powered by Wheel.

Last Updated 2/15/2024

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