Does your cycle have you feeling up and down? Menstrual cycle- and menopause-related health concerns are common, and often uncomfortable. If you experience symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, cramping, fatigue or mood swings or irregular bleeding or hot flashes due to perimenopause or menopause, you know how easily they can ruin your day. But the good news is, most of these symptoms are manageable with lifestyle changes or over-the-counter remedies.
1. Get regular exercise.
Regular exercise can be helpful in easing menstrual cramping and fatigue. Low-intensity physical activities such as walking, hiking and bike riding can keep your heart healthy and soothe these symptoms.
If you’re just starting out, try walking for 30 minutes a day. You can even take three 10-minute walks throughout the day if that works better for you. Do your best to keep your exercise regime consistent and then, as you get stronger, work up to even more activity. Make it a goal to be active for 45 minutes or more at a time, three to five days a week, to reap optimal benefits.
2. Manage your stress.
Any kind of stress (even when it’s caused by happy events) can take a toll on your body — and many women find that being stressed makes their menopause symptoms worse, especially if stress levels keep them from getting quality sleep.
Find a few minutes each day to practice a relaxation technique, like deep breathing exercises that can calm your body and mind. Engaging in hobbies you enjoy, spending time with people you love, and practicing self-care are also effective techniques for relieving stress.
3. Stay hydrated.
You already know how important it is to drink water regularly throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. But did you know there are lots of ways to prevent dehydration? And some that don’t have anything to do with drinking water?
Various foods from nature — nuts, oils, seeds, avocados and sweet potatoes, for example — are highly effective at nourishing and cooling the body. These whole foods are filled with vitamins and minerals that can build the body’s reserves and provide healthy fats and natural oils to help your body work better.
Every time you eat, make sure you’re choosing foods that nourish your body and satisfy your hunger and thirst.
4. Use an ice pack.
By simply applying a cold towel or an icepack to the back of your neck, you can help cool your body while you’re experiencing a hot flash. You can even use a bag of frozen vegetables or a cold bottle of water — whatever you have available and works for you.
Hold the cold surface against your skin at the base of your neck. Since this is the point where cold and hot temperatures most easily enter your body, it’s the best spot for helping you to regulate your body temperature. If night sweats are an issue keep a gel pack that stays cold for long on your night stand and use as needed.
5. Try acupuncture.
Acupuncture can be helpful for managing symptoms of menopause, as well as for general hormonal health. If you think acupuncture treatments may be a good fit for you, we offer services at ProMedica Natural Wellness Shop.
6. Use natural medicines.
Herbs and natural medicines have helped many women reduce or relieve symptoms of cycle-related issues or discomfort:
- Black cohosh is a medicinal herb that women find particularly helpful for treating hot flashes. However, since black cohosh can increase your body’s estrogen production, check with your doctor before trying it (especially if you or a family member has a history of breast cancer).
- Cramp bark, which comes from a flowering shrub grown in many parts of the world, has historically been used to treat menstrual cramping and inflammation of the uterus.
- Vitex is an herb that may lessen symptoms of PMS and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), such as swelling, cramping, mood swings and headaches. Research studies suggest that taking Vitex may also help alleviate breast tenderness.
Always consult a physician before starting any supplement or diet changes.
Kylie A. Study, M.Sc, MSTOM, Dipl.OM is a licensed acupuncturist and natural wellness practitioner at the ProMedica Natural Wellness Shop in Sylvania, Ohio.