What NOT to Do As You Enter Menopause
The HealthCentral Editorial Team | March 26, 2012
Reviewed by Peter J. Chen, MD, FACOG
Don't think your sex life is over
Your sex life isn’t over just because you’ve entered menopause. All women (and of course men) have some testosterone. In women and men, the level may drop as we age, resulting in lower sex drive. But in some women at menopause, testosterone actually increases. Also, you no longer have to deal with the nuisance of birth control. If you feel like you’ve really lost your libido, be sure to get tested to see if your testosterone is the problem, or perhaps another hormone.
Don't close your mind to HRT
Thirty years ago, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was touted as the fountain of youth and then later as the road to almost certain heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer. Neither is totally true. Recent studies have shown that the age at which you begin HRT has an impact on whether it is potentially heart-protective or a contributor to your chance of heart attack and stroke. It can be beneficial for some and harmful for others.
Don't mistake menopause for mood disorders
No study has shown that menopause alone is linked to depression. Menopause is a signal, to our brains and to our bodies, that life is changing. Denial of that fact can lead to some serious consequences, including depression. Those willing to face the changes and let go of the irreversible ones (your child-bearing years are waning) are more likely to have less anxiety and even depression than those who feel helpless in the face of life’s changing landscape.
Don't blame weight gain on menopause
Don’t use menopause as a weight gain excuse. If you watch your diet and follow a good exercise routine, you can prevent weight gain during your middle years.
Don't give up on sleep
It’s extremely important for menopausal women to get plenty of sleep - especially those on hormone therapy. To get better sleep, try going to bed at the same time every night, keep your room cool, eliminate technology, avoid napping, and don’t eat a late dinner.
When you’re stressed, your body responds with inflammation, which is never good. This can cause adrenal fatigue, which affects other systems in your body. To eliminate stress, try meditating, doing yoga, or just taking a few minutes for yourself each day to breathe. Also be sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Don't stop socializing
Studies show that menopausal women who had better mental functioning were those who interacted more with family, volunteered more, or attended more monthly meetings.
Don't stop eating soy products
Soy foods such as soybeans, soy milk, tofu, and miso contain isoflavones or phytoestrogens that can help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. These foods can also support heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and bone health by modestly increasing bone density.
Don't give up on dieting
Diet plays an integral part in maintaining a healthy body weight during menopause. To prevent weight gain, it is important that women eat well and get regular physical activity. Eating small frequent meals with nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, nuts, and seeds will keep energy levels high and manage appetite.
Don't forget about your bones
To maintain healthy bones and prevent bone loss, it is important for women to ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D. The recommended daily dietary allowance for calcium and vitamin D for women over age 50 years is 1200 mg and 600 IU, respectively.