Ways to cope with common menopause symptoms

Ways to cope with common menopause symptoms

Medically reviewed by Mary Jane Minkin, MD


How to cope with the common symptoms of menopause

More than 8 out of 10 women have symptoms

Image of 8 out of 10 women

Narrator: The transition to menopause can cause many symptoms and more than 8 out of 10 women will experience them. Knowing what to expect can help you cope.

Animated image of a woman in her 40s sitting in a healthcare provider’s office. A Black HCP female enters the room.

Woman standing up to shake hands with healthcare worker, then sit back down

HCP seated opposite the woman

Healthcare Professional: Hi, Michelle. What brings you today?

Flashbacks to the last date, dressed in other clothes to indicate that it was the last time they spoke

Michelle: Hi Dr. Smith. Remember how you brought up menopause on my last appointment?

The HCP nods his head

HCP: Yes. We discussed the possibility that you were in perimenopause, the transition to menopause.

Go back and forth between the women, use a variety of shots, maybe medium close-ups, close-ups and long shots.

Michelle: I think you were right. I’m starting to have some symptoms and I’m wondering what I can do about them.

HCP: I’m happy to help. What kind of symptoms do you have?

Michelle sitting at a desk in a cubicle when her face starts turning red and she starts sweating. She reaches out and turns on the fan on her desk.

Michelle: I think I had hot flashes? I’ll be sitting at my desk when all of a sudden, I’m absolutely roasting. Now I have fans in every room.

3 out of 4 women have hot flashes

HCP: Yes, it sounds like hot flashes. These sudden, brief increases in body temperature affect about 3 out of 4 women.

Michelle buttoning a long sleeve shirt over a tank top.

It seems you’ve already found a way to cope with hot flashes: a fan. You can also try dressing in layers that can be removed at the onset of a hot flash.

Michelle wakes up drenched in sweat

Michelle: I’ve also woken up in a sweat a couple of times lately which really prevents me from sleeping well.

Michelle puts on light pajamas (shorts and short sleeves), turning down the thermostat.

Health Care Professional: If hot flashes wake you up at night, consider turning down the thermostat before bed, putting on lighter pajamas, and replacing your bedding with something lighter.

Michelle wakes up refreshed in the same pajamas she was wearing when she turned down the thermostat

Hope these things help. What other symptoms are you dealing with?

Michelle yelling at her husband and children, then crying alone in her room.

Michelle: Well, my moods have been all over the place. One minute I’m angry, the next I’m crying. It’s a real treat for my family. (laughs)

Perimenopause can cause mood swings

and anxiety and depression (have this second part separate so it’s broken up and easier to read)

HCP: (Laughs softly) Trust me, I get it. Mood swings are common during menopause, as are anxiety and depression.

Michelle walking outside.

Michelle: I’ve found that going for a walk really helps me stabilize. What else can I do?

HCP nods his head in approval.

HCP: It’s great that you’ve discovered how much exercise and being outside can improve your mood.

Michelle walks followed by her taking deep breaths

In addition to walking, you may find a calming practice like yoga or meditation helpful. In a pinch, simply taking a few deep breaths can work wonders for anxiety.

Michelle going to a yoga class

Michelle: Thanks for giving me a reason to get back into yoga class. But I guess yoga won’t help me with another symptom I’ve had: irregular periods.

(SUPER) About 7 out of 10 women have irregular periods

Michelle takes a tampon from her purse

Healthcare Professional: I was going to ask about your period. Many women find that their periods become less regular as they go through menopause. It’s a good idea to have pads or tampons with you at all times, as you may spot or get your period when you don’t expect it.

Michelle writing her period on a calendar

Also, I’d like you to keep track of your periods, including how heavy they are. In this way, we will be able to identify any warning signs.

Michelle looks embarrassed

Michelle: There’s one more thing I wanted to mention, but it’s a little embarrassing.

Let’s go back to the conversation with both people or the picture of the healthcare professional

HCP: Please don’t be embarrassed. I’ve already heard everything.

People in bed with blankets covering their bodies and looking miserable

Michelle: I had some, uh, discomfort during sex with my husband. It’s never been a problem before, but I’m assuming it’s menopause related?

Most postmenopausal women experience it

vaginal dryness

pain during sex

Healthcare Professional: It is, and it is very common, especially later in the menopausal transition. Due to decreased levels of the hormone estrogen, many women experience vaginal dryness or irritation which can make sex less enjoyable.

Let’s go back to the two people in the office

Michelle: Is there anything I can do?

A bottle of lube, then an image of Michelle and a man sitting on a bed talking.

HCP: Definitely. In the short term, I recommend a vaginal moisturizer to use regularly and a good lubricant during sex — and an honest conversation with your husband about the changes your body is going through. And if you can, he tries to keep having sex, as long as it’s not uncomfortable or painful.

HCP and Michelle talk

If these suggestions don’t help and the discomfort gets worse, we can discuss other treatment options.

An image of a recipe book with a prescription on it, pill bottles, cream tubes, etc. appear on the screen one by one

These could include over-the-counter remedies, hormone therapy, or hormone-free medications.

Let’s go back to people talking

Michael: Ok, thanks. It’s good to know I have options.

Image of healthcare worker smiling kindly

HCP: Yes, and a lot of them.

Image of Michelle lying in bed wide awake, with the clock on the bedside table saying 3:00

Michelle: Now, if I could just stop waking up at 3:00 every night, I’d be good to go.

About 6 out of 10 women have menopause-related sleep problems

Healthcare Professional: Unfortunately, insomnia and other sleep problems are very common in the run-up to menopause.

Image of Michelle waking up with an alarm clock

Some of the things we’ve talked about for dealing with night sweats might help with insomnia as well. I also recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekend.

Image of Michelle in bed reading a book, then putting it down and turning off the light

Michelle: I haven’t been able to sleep since having kids, but I need to be better at setting a regular bedtime for myself.

Image of healthcare worker nodding

HCP: I know it’s easier said than done, but it makes a difference.

Any other concerns you want to discuss today?

Image of HCP and Michelle talking

Michael: I don’t think so. I can’t say I’m really looking forward to this menopause thing, but now I feel more prepared to handle the symptoms.

Image of the two women standing and the caregiver walking Michelle to the door.

HCP: All right. And by the way, many women actually find that they enjoy this stage of life because they go into themselves and have increased confidence. Feel free to answer your questions at any time. And if the things we’ve talked about don’t help, we can discuss other options, like hormone therapy.

Talk to your doctor

Narrator: If you’re having trouble coping with menopause symptoms, talk to your doctor. There are things you can do to ease the transition.

For more information, visit HealthyWomen.org

This resource was created with support from Alora.

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