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How to cope with your menopause symptoms

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How to control a hot flush

Learn to avoid possible triggers Flushes can be triggered by overheated surroundings, stress, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, and even hot drinks. Keep a diary to identify triggers and avoid them if possible.

Practise yoga breathing Dr Freedman's research showed that slow controlled breathing - inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds - could halve the frequency of flushes. The women practised the technique for 15 minutes morning and evening and then used it when they felt a flush coming on to stop it in its tracks.

Try herbal remedies Black cohosh can help menopausal symptoms. New research suggests it stimulates the brain like an anti-depressant. Agnus castus may also help as it is thought to balance the hormonal system.

Take vitamin E It has also been found helpful in reducing hot flushes.

Natural ways to cope

Yehudi Gordon, consultant gynaecologist at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in London, believes diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference to how well you cope with the menopause.

Additions to your diet

Fibre helps balance your hormones, preventing oestrogens excreted in bile from being reabsorbed into the blood. Eat more fibre rich food such as wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, oats and beans.

Make food rich in phyto-oestrogens (POs) part of your daily diet. There's evidence that they can lessen hot flushes and sweats and may also help maintain bone density. Soya products, chick peas, lentils, mung and aduki beans are rich in POs called isoflavones. Menopause expert Marilyn Glenville recommends 40mg isoflavones daily. 250ml soya milk contains 20mg isoflavones, a soya yogurt 12mg. But don't overdo it as too much can reduce the effectiveness of certain vitamins and reduce iron levels.

Lifestyle changes

Exercise seems to help balance hormonal activity. Some studies show it can reduce hot flushes and strengthen muscles and bones to protect against osteoporosis. ‘Two hours' walking a week carrying five kilos is as effective for the bones as HRT,' says Dr Gordon.

Eat less sugar and refined food. The adrenal glands take over oestrogen production as the ovaries decline, so it's important to keep them healthy. Too much sugar can over-stimulate the adrenal glands.

Published April 2004
The answers to specific problems may not apply to everyone and are not substitutes for professional medical advice. If you're worried, see your GP.

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