How can I reduce lasting menopausal symptoms?

Q. I had my last menstrual period four years ago, but I’m still having hot flashes and night sweats. Is this normal, and is there anything other than hormones that might alleviate my symptoms?

A. Unfortunately, while menopausal symptoms are short-lived for many women, others can have symptoms for years after their menstrual cycles have stopped. These may include heart palpitations, vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes, sleep disruptions, and mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

There are some nonhormonal approaches that might help. Some of the best options for hot flashes and night sweats are those that help keep you cool. These include dressing in layers, so you can quickly remove clothing to adjust your body temperature; keeping a small fan nearby that can be flipped on as needed; using cool-water compresses on your skin; keeping your bedroom at a lower temperature at night; and wearing light clothing to bed (ideally made of fabrics designed to wick away moisture). In addition, try to get regular exercise. It’s been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms over all, and it may help to improve your sleep quality. Also, be sure to speak with your doctor. She may be able to offer you some additional treatment options and can also rule out other conditions that might be causing the problems you are experiencing.

— Toni Golen, M.D., and Hope Ricciotti, M.D.
Editors in Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 56:3 ESV
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Psalm 34:4 ESV
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Matthew 6:25-34 ESV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …

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