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Six Ways to Protect Yourself During Menopause

   
Written by Sheri Fresonke Harper     

This article discusses some of the affects of menopause and ways a woman should protect her sleep, emotions, skin, bones, diet and the choices for using hormones.   

Women go through anywhere from five to fifteen years of menopause. These years are especially hard on your body, mind, and lifestyle. When a woman's body naturally begins making and releasing fewer eggs, it also signals her body chemistry to release fewer hormones.

I went through menopause at thirty-three because I suffered from endometriosis. I first took a hormone treatment that put me into an chemically induced menopause, then later, I had a full hysterectomy that put me immediately into menopause. Doing so is harsher than gradually entering menopause, but the same effects are shared regardless of how one goes through menopause. Generally, a woman who has had her ovaries removed must take hormone replacement therapy. What I learned about the process was that every woman must be proactive about protecting her emotions, skin, diet, skeleton, and method for obtaining estrogen.

I found my emotions fluctuated as wildly as when I was a teenager. One thing that especially affected my emotional state was the amount of sleep I got each night. Rest isn't always possible. Depending on my hormone level, I either slept really well, in fact, sometimes way too much, or at the beginning when I really lacked estrogen, I found I didn't sleep for almost two months. Lack of sleep produces paranoia, extra jitters, dry eyes, and fluctuating emotions.  To protect your emotions, do what it takes to get an adequate amount of sleep. Be patient with yourself, you are at the mercy of your body's chemistry. Bend rules about how much vacation you take, your work hours, etc. in order to give yourself the time needed to endure. This is especially true if you go through surgery. The guidelines for surgical recovery are minimal. Take time off when emotional to protect your relationships.

To help with sleep, sweat on purpose to reduce night time sweats. This means you need to exercise. Shower often, it will help make you feel clean and cool. Because your body burns, sleep with your arms and legs out of the covers. Give yourself a massage to induce sleep, using a cooling lotion. Allow yourself to cry, in fact, doing so helps release your pent up stress and emotions. I found it especially helpful to put on sad songs or movies to give me a reason to cry. Afterwards, bathing your face with cool water helps you recover.

I don't know why your skin feels like it burns, but I found that a lotion with soy and or almond oil cooled the skin. Many of the herbal menopause lotions contain these ingredients. You don't need to by the expensive brands to get the same effects. Bump up to a richer face moisturizer. Many cosmetic stores offer guidance on selecting an appropriate product. Because you may find yourself with acne again, such help is advisable. When you bath, use soaps with more oil content. Brush your hair often and massage your scalp to remove the dry itchy feeling and use oil conditioners to increase the health of your hair. Your eyeballs may need added moisture drops.

Changes in my hormone level always affect my digestive tract. Make sure you eat fiber--- oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, and ground flax seed. Herbal teas can help. Sage tea will help when having hot flashes to cool you down. Tea with senna can aid bowel activity. I found that when I take hormones, it affects my allergies. Add vitamin C and ginseng to boost your immunity to pollens. Drink cranberry juice to prevent bladder infection. Avoid sugar and fat because the first makes you feel hot and bloated and the latter increases your weight. Add soy oil based Vitamin E to your vitamins to get the herbal boost to your estrogen levels.

Once you start menopause, your skeletal system becomes at risk of osteoporosis. Studies have show that weight bearing exercise on your spine helps you retain calcium. The number one weight bearing exercise is walking. Visit a chiropractor-calcium loss will show up as blockages and stuck places in your vertebrae. Stretch your muscles and tendons with an exercise like yoga. Do twenty circles per joint daily to prevent calcium build up and reduce the associated arthritis pain.

 
Decide on whether or not to add estrogen. If you've had a ovarectomy you will need estrogen, maybe for your entire remaining life. Don't avoid sex. If you experience vaginal dryness or lack of interest, get an estrogen cream, it will make sex pleasant. Younger women who go through surgical menopause may need an estrogen with a testosterone component. Many women choose to add estrogen using herbal supplements rather than from hormone replacement therapy, which uses animal estrogens. Coming out of surgery, I found that a patch worked well for a week. After that, the only way I could get enough estrogen to sleep was to have injections. I took injections for several years before returning to using a patch changed twice a week. Check with your gynecologist to ensure you're getting enough hormones.


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The Canary Club is an educational advisory group with a team of medical advisors headed by Richard Shames, M.D.