The first step in controlling your menopause symptoms is to take a good look at your lifestyle. This is essential, whether your doctor prescribes medication and/or natural health remedies to help you through this life stage, or not.

Quite simply, this means you have to:

    • Stop smoking: Make a firm decision to quit; then choose a date that you'll be smoke-free, and pick a smoking cessation plan that will work for you. This will dramatically lower your risk for a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

    • Control your weight: Follow a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, lean protein, legumes, dairy and complex carbohydrates. Aim to exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week. If you still struggle to control your weight, speak to a registered dietician. A healthy diet will also reduce your risk for osteoporosis and heart disease, so really is essential.

    • Manage your stress levels: Consider learning a meditation or relaxation technique involving deep breathing, get into nature at least once a week, and practise time management at work and at home. Once again, make sure you get lots of exercise – it really does make a difference (also in terms of improving sleep, strengthening your bones and lifting your mood).

Tips to manage specific symptoms

Here are a few simple lifestyle-related tips on how to handle some of those classic menopause symptoms:

Hot flushes

Keep your home and workplace cool; wear loose clothing; drink plenty of water; avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods; exercise regularly; and avoid confined spaces.

Vaginal dryness

A water-based lubricant can be used immediately before intercourse, while a warm bath before sex could also help.

Mood changes

Discuss your symptoms with other women, or perhaps a therapist. Ask others for consideration and understanding.

Decreased sexual desire

Identify and address the primary cause. Reduced libido may be due to physical changes (such as vaginal dryness) or low self-perception.

Incontinence problems

These can often be improved by doing regular pelvic muscle-strengthening exercises.

Keep track of your symptoms

Monitor your menstrual cycle for several months and keep track of your symptoms. This will give you a greater sense of control and will be useful in terms of feedback to your doctor.

If you’re unable to control your symptoms after implementing the above changes, treatment with hormone-replacement therapy and/or a natural alternative might be necessary.

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