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    Menopause: What it is, What to do

    Coping with the Early Stages of Menopause

    • During the day, light-colored clothing made of natural fibers and/or clothing worn in layers can help lessen hot flashes.
    • A portable fan can provide additional comfort.
    • At night, caffeine and hot, spicy foods should be avoided.
    • Sleeping nude or in cotton pajamas can help reduce night sweat discomfort.
    • Vaginal lubricants may alleviate any vaginal discomfort or dryness you may experience during intercourse.
    • Support groups for women who have been or are going through menopause may be a comfort.

    Other than dealing with the side effects of menopause, life should continue pretty much as it did before. Continue to use birth control if you do not wish to become pregnant until you have been assured by a doctor that you can no longer conceive.

    Many women find that post-menopausal life (approximately one year after their last period) is liberating because there is no longer a need to be concerned about pregnancy or menstruation -- and there is more time to focus attention on new areas of health and well-being.

    Ensure Good Health after Menopause

    • Have a mammogram performed every two years between the ages of 40 and 50, and once every year after 50.
    • Eat more calcium-rich foods, such as dark green vegetables and nonfat dairy products.
    • Exercise regularly and reduce saturated fats in your diet.

    A New Beginning

    Whatever we do, it's important to remember that menopause is not the end of our lives. For many women, it's the beginning of a new life -- one that is free from concerns about pregnancy and what others might think of us. These are the prime years of our lives and full of opportunities for us to enrich our personal relationships, learn new skills, develop new hobbies and if we wish, redefine who we are and how we contribute to the world around us.

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