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Ease menopause symptoms without hormones

 A woman sits at a desk with her hands folded, smiling.

Hormone-free remedies can help ease common menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, trouble sleeping and memory problems.

You probably know that you're not alone when it comes menopause symptoms. It's a natural transition. But that doesn't make it any easier when hot flashes disrupt your days or you're not sleeping well at night.

If you're bothered by these or other menopause symptoms, you might start by talking with your doctor about your options for feeling better.

Some women choose to try hormone therapy. But there are risks and side effects—and it may not be right for everyone.

Finding relief for better day and nights

Here's a look at hormone-free remedies for five common menopause symptoms:

1. Hot flashes. What to try:

Pay attention. Note when hot flashes tend to occur and what seems to trigger them. Then steer clear of likely culprits, if possible. Those may include spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, stress and hot environments.

Dress for less distress. It helps to wear layers, so you can remove one if needed.

Breathe through it. When a hot flash starts, take slow, deep breaths. They're calming and may shorten how long these waves of heat last.

Stretch. Workouts that stretch your muscles—like yoga—may improve hot flashes.

Take steps to trim down. Hot flashes may be more intense and more frequent if you are at an unhealthy weight.

Talk with your doctor about your options. Certain antidepressants and other non-hormone medications may help with hot flashes.

2. Night sweats. What to try:

Go light. Choose lightweight sleepwear and use layered bedding you can easily remove during the night.

Chill. Use an electric fan to cool down. Another cool trick: Keep a frozen cold pack under your pillow. You can turn the pillow over as needed so your head can rest on a cool surface.

3. Discomfort during sex due to vaginal dryness. What to try:

Vaginal lubricant. You can find over-the-counter options to decrease friction and make sex more comfortable. Choose only water-soluble products. Oil-based ointments like petroleum jelly can actually make irritation worse.

Vaginal moisturizer. Also available without a prescription, these products can help make sex more comfortable. Using a vaginal moisturizer regularly helps maintain healthier, less dry tissue.

Increased activity. Having sex more often may help too. It promotes blood flow to the area and may improve vaginal health. But make sure you're practicing safe sex—irritated tissue can put you at higher risk of sexually transmitted infections.

4. Troubled sleep. What to try:

Move more. Regular exercise can help you feel better and sleep better. One caveat: Don't work out too close to bedtime. That may make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Set the stage for sweet slumber. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. Try to go to bed and wake up at consistent times throughout the week.

Avoid sleep disrupters. Before bed, avoid or limit large meals, smoking, alcohol and the bright light of screens. Also, reserve caffeine for early in your day.

5. Memory problems or moodiness. What to try:

Focus on self-care. Get your rest. Make healthy foods a priority. Find time for exercise. Being active can help boost your brainpower and mood. Stay mentally active too—maybe by doing crossword puzzles or learning a new skill.

Socialize. Good friends can be good medicine. Studies show that besides helping us through the ups and downs of life, strong personal connections help stave off memory decline. Research shows that people with the most active social lives have the slowest rate of memory loss.

Give yourself a break. Try not to take on too much. And do at least one thing you enjoy every day. Another helpful daily practice: Look for the positives in your life. Gratitude can ease stress and help you keep things in perspective.

Aiming for a healthier weight? Get info and tips to help get you on your way.

Sources: Office on Women's Health; North American Menopause Society; National Institute on Aging

Reviewed 10/15/2019

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