Keep a diary to track what sets off your hot flashes. Caffeine? Alcohol? A hot room? Stress? All are common causes. When a flash starts, take slow, deep breaths, in the nose and out the mouth. For tough cases, talk to your doctor.
Freeze Out Night Sweats
At night, hot flashes can go on for 3 minutes or more, leaving you drenched in sweat and unable to sleep. But there are ways to keep your cool. Trade the heavy flannels for light PJs. Put a bag of frozen peas under your pillow. Flip the pillow through the night and put your face on the cool side. Choose layers of light blankets over one thick quilt. Use a bedside fan to keep air moving.
Boost the Odds of Sleep
Yoga, tai chi, and learning to meditate have all been shown to help you sleep. Any exercise can make a difference; just quit 3 hours before bedtime. Skip a nightcap, as alcohol will waken you later. Instead, try sipping warm milk. It contains a substance that can help you relax. Still up? Get out of bed and read until sleepy. If the trouble persists, talk to your doctor about short-term sleep aids.
Give Your Body Help
Hormone changes leave the vagina thinner and dryer, which can make sex painful. Lucky for you, lots of products exist today that can help. Try nonprescription, water-based vaginal lubricants or vaginal moisturizer. You can also ask your doctor about prescription vaginal creams or rings, or prescription pills for vaginal dryness and painful sex. The more sex you're able to have, the better for blood flow, which helps vaginal health.
Nurture That Lost Desire
Make more time for sex. Try massage and other acts short of intercourse. Use erotica and new-for-you sex routines as ways to build desire, too. Other causes besides hormone changes can strike at the same time. Ask a doctor about poor sleep, bladder trouble, or feeling depressed or stressed.
Mood Highs and Oh-So Lows
It's like PMS, only amped up -- crying jags, happy happies, cranky crankies. These are common in women around the time of menopause. And if you had bad PMS, the hormonal changes that happen during this time may cause even bigger mood swings. Yoga and tai chi can help here, too. So can doing things with others that you enjoy. A low-dose birth control pill, antidepressants, and even alternative treatments are sometimes recommended for mood changes.
Head Off Headaches
Migraines can worsen at or around the time of menopause, or show up for the first time. Keep a diary to see what triggers them and if they show up along with hot flashes so you can take steps to lessen them. Eating small meals through the day can help if hunger is a headache trigger. Lack of sleep is another one, so nap if your nights are messed up. Treatments vary and can help prevent migraine frequency or severity. Talk with your doctor.
When Hair Goes Down the Drain
Hair can thin or shed faster. At the same time, it may show up where you don't want it -- on your chin and cheeks. To save what you have, switch to coloring products that don't have harsh chemicals. Avoid the sun, which is drying. Got unwanted facial hair? Ask a skin doctor for advice to help wax, bleach, pluck, or zap it away.
Zits? Now? Really?
You expect to have acne in your teens but not in your 50s. Surprise: It's common around menopause, too. Make sure your moisturizer, sunscreen, cleanser, and other face products are gentle. Look for the words "oil free," "won't clog pores," "noncomedogenic," and "non-acnegenic." Even tough cases can clear with time and a doctor's help.
Blast Through Mental Fog
"Use it or lose it." That simple phrase can help you fight fuzzy thinking and stay focused during menopause. Challenge your brain in new ways. Learn something new, like a hobby or language. Lowering your stress level can help, too. Women with more hot flashes have more memory complaints.
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American Academy of Dermatology: "Adult Acne."
Cleveland Clinic: "Menopause and Sex," Menopause and Sleep Concerns."
Drogos, L. Menopause, published online May 13, 2013.
FDA: "FDA Approves the first non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes associated with menopause."
Greendale, G. Neurology, May 26, 2009.
Harvard Health Publications: "Dealing With the Symptoms of Menopause."
International Dermal Institute: "How Does Menopause Affect the Skin?"
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Menopause Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices."
National Health Service: "Hormone Headaches."
National Sleep Foundation: "Menopause and Sleep."
North American Menopause Society: "Depression & Menopause," "FAQs: Body Changes & Symptoms," "Five Solutions for Menopause Symptoms," "Menonote: Treating Hot Flashes," "Oh-My Migraine, Hormonal Headaches and Menopause," Other Body Changes Affecting Sexuality," "Urinary Incontinence."
WomensHealth.gov: "Menopause and Menopause Symptoms Fact Sheet."
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.