Local News

Holiday Stress Can Be Tough On Post-Menopausal Women

Posted December 19, 2005 6:59 a.m. EST

— Holidays can be a joyful as well as stressful time. That is especially true for women going through menopause. Doctors are helping many women find more natural ways to deal with the stress of the season.

For Barbara Whitehair, the symptoms of menopause can make it difficult to share in the joy of the season.

"It was pretty bad -- the hot flashes, the night sweats, anxiety attacks. It was terrible," she said.

Hormone replacement therapy used to lessen those symptoms, but she quit HRT after studies showed the health risks outweighed its benefits. Dr. Sheila Allison prescribed natural hormone therapy, also called bioidentical hormones -- hormones which are identical to the ones that doctors make as opposed to synthetic hormones that are manufactured.

That approach helped Whitehair some. Allison recommends it in combination with behavior changes, especially during this time of year. Other suggestions include:

  • Spicy food and alcohol tend to bring on hot flashes.
  • Dress in layers so you can take off clothing to feel more comfortable.
  • For many women, exercise helps lessen the intensity of hot flashes.
  • Pace yourself. Don't overcommit yourself
  • "One of the things is to watch your stress levels and not to make a big deal out of nothing. It's usually not life-threatening," Allison said.

    Whitehair said in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Durham's Streets at Southpoint, a little massage can rub all her cares away.

    "I love massages. I mean, if it were up to me, yes, I would get a massage every day," she said. "Anything to relieve stress is good."