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 your nose and out your 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 meditation can help you get shut-eye, research shows. Any exercise can make a difference -- just stop 3 hours before bedtime. Skip a nightcap, since alcohol will wake you up later. Sip warm milk instead. It has a substance in it that can help you relax. Still up? Get out of bed and read until sleepy. If you still have trouble, 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 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 dryness and painful sex. The more sex you're able to have, the better for blood flow, which keeps things healthy down there.
Nurture That Lost Desire
Make more time for sex. Try massage and foreplay, too. Use erotica and new-for-you sex routines as ways to build desire. Hormone changes are a main cause, but other things that zap your sex drive can strike at the same time. Ask your 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 for 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 fun things with friends or family. Your doctor may suggest a low-dose birth control pill, antidepressants, and alternative treatments for mood changes.
Head Off Headaches
Migraines can get worse at or around the time of menopause, or show up for the first time. Keep a diary to see what seems to trigger them and if they show up along with hot flashes. That way 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. Some can prevent migraines. Others may make them less frequent or severe. Talk with your doctor.
When Hair Goes Down the Drain
Hair can thin or shed faster around the time of menopause. 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 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. Lower your stress level. Women with more hot flashes -- which can be linked to stress -- say they have more memory troubles.
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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;" and "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.