Menopause: What it is and how to manage it.

April 11, 2024

Marta Canfield, MD


Wondering what you need to know about going through menopause? Here's what Dr. Marta Canfield, First Stop Health Virtual Primary Care doctor had to say about caring for your health through menopause. 


What is menopause? 

Menopause is a natural stage that marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. It is diagnosed after 12 months in a row without a menstrual period.  

If you’re wondering when it will happen, you can look at your family history. When your mother, mom’s aunts or older sisters went through menopause is a good sign for when you will. It often begins for women during their late 40s to early 50s, but the exact age can vary.  


What are signs I’m going through menopause? 

During menopause, the ovaries stop producing eggs. Your body also slows down production of  estrogen and progesterone (reproductive hormones that play a key role in puberty, menstruation and pregnancy) Because of these changes, you might experience: 

  • Hot flashes 
  • Night sweats 
  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Mood swings 
  • Memory problems 
  • Brain fog 
  • Sleep disturbances  

 How long you experience these symptoms and how severe they are varies between women. 


What can I do to care for myself during menopause? 

During this time, it's important to adopt healthy habits and get support for physical and emotional changes. You can also: 

  • Stay active. Regular physical activity can help ease symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and sleep disturbances. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. This can include activities such as walking, swimming or cycling. 

  • Eat a balanced diet. Supporting your body with good nutrition is key. You should focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. You should also make sure you eat enough foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D to support your bone health. This can include leafy green vegetables, dairy products and nuts. Women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle and weak, after menopause.  

  • Manage your stress and get enough sleep. Practicing deep breathing, meditation or yoga can help you relax and manage mood swings. It's also important to have good sleep habits: Stick to a regular sleep schedule, create a bedtime routine and be sure your environment is comfortable.

  • Quick smoking and limit alcohol. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk for some health conditions. It can also worsen your menopause symptoms. Quitting smoking and limiting your alcohol intake can improve your health during menopause. Some patients do their best when they stop drinking alcohol – often completely reducing their hot flashes! Instead, drinking plenty of water is important to stay hydrated. It can help ease symptoms of hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

  • Talk it out. It can be helpful to get support for your experiences with menopause from friends, family or a support group. By sharing feelings and experiences, you may feel less alone and can lean on one another.  

  • Learn about menopause. A great way to understand what you’re going through and what you can expect is to learn more about it. I recommend reading: 
    Hormone Repair Manual by Dr. Lara Briden, ND 
    Hormone Intelligence by Dr. Aviva Romm, MD

  • Consider hormone therapy. If your symptoms are severe and impacting your quality of life, it may be time to talk about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with your doctor. HRT can help reduce symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings. You should talk with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of starting HRT.

  • Get regular health check-ups. Continue to have regular visits with your doctor for routine screenings and check-ups. It’s important to watch your health and discuss any concerns or changes in symptoms. 

Every women’s experience with menopause is unique. It’s important to find what works best for you and to lean on your healthcare team for support during these changes. As a reminder, it’s a time to be patient and kind to yourself.  


Get started with virtual primary care. 

Our virtual primary care doctors can help support your health through menopause. If your employer or school offers you First Stop Health Virtual Primary Care, our doctors are here for you. During your first visit, your doctor will get to know your personal and family health history, ask questions, listen to your concerns, and make recommendations for your current and future health.      

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Originally published Apr 11, 2024 1:15:14 PM.