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Not Your Mother’s Menopause Survival Guide!

And this is why you'll want to read this.

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Various items including lube, sneakers, a fan and sleep mask in a safe foam case sitting on a table at home
Gregory Reid (Prop stylist: Anna-Lemi)
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Many women, myself included, are woefully unprepared for perimenopause and menopause. I can’t remember my mom ever talking to me about it, even though we used to talk about everything. And even though there are articles, books and podcasts about “the change,” many of my younger friends are still stunned when their turn comes around.

One friend recently told me she’s only sleeping about three hours a night, while another is experiencing terrible anxiety for the first time in her life. Yet another told me her hair is thinning. I feel their pain. I’ve also sweated through my PJs, broken out in weird places, gained weight, lost hair, lost sleep, had bouts of anxiety and depression, and dealt with hormonal rage. Over the years and through trial and error, hours of Googling, reading and commiserating, I’ve learned a thing or two about managing the smorgasbord of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Here are the products and tips I wish someone had shared with me years ago.

Sleep Essentials. I used to be a champion sleeper and was shocked when that changed as I approached 50. Nowadays, a chilly room (66 degrees, to be exact), black-out shades and an eye mask are non-negotiable for me if I want to sleep well. Sateen sheets from Brooklinen and a silk pillowcase from Quince are also on my list for optimal zzzs.

Comfy Shoes. Sure, I miss my chunky wedges and high-heeled boots, but after years of fighting foot pain, I’ve leaned into comfort. I swear by Hokas for everyday running around, as well as Campers, Dr. Martens and UGG sandals and boots.

Podcasts. Jennifer Romolini and Kim France (founding editor of Lucky Magazine), the hosts of the Everything is Fine podcast, discuss everything from neck sweat to painful sex to friend breakups. They are like the super cool BFFs I always wanted. Hilarious, relatable, snarky and just plain real, EIF will make you laugh out loud and feel seen. I also enjoy listening to A Certain Age, an “age-positive” podcast that helps you “live your best-evolving midlife — loud and proud.” I’ve picked up some excellent advice, product suggestions, and life lessons from both.

Skin, Body & Hair Care. My hair and skin have changed a lot over the past few years —everything is a little dryer and more sensitive, so I’ve had to switch up my products. My new faves include Rejuvenating Night Cream from Stripes, which has a gentle retinoid to help with fine lines and firmness, Kérastase Nutritive Riche Hair Mask, which is excellent for dry, frizz-prone hair, and great smelling Indie Lee Sleep Oil, which I spray on after my nightly bath to help me sleep.

Must-Reads. I bought The Menopause Manifesto a few years ago and recommend it to all my perimenopausal friends. It’s an informative, entertaining and frank book by renowned gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter that debunks myths and misunderstandings about menopause with facts, real science, and expert advice. Another excellent meno-book is Hot and Bothered: What No One Tells You About Menopause by Jancee Dunn. She wrote the book she wishes had existed when she was going through her own perimenopause journey. It’s filled with humor, in-depth interviews with renowned menopause experts, and actionable advice.

Hormone Therapy. Suffering from painful sex, dryness or urinary frequency? You are definitely not alone, and low-dose estrogen therapy could help. One option that I like is Estring, a soft, flexible ring that’s used after menopause (defined as starting when you've gone without a period for a full year) that continuously releases estrogen over three months to treat menopausal changes in and around the vagina. Talk to your gynecologist to see if Estring or another hormone replacement therapy is right for you.

Portable Fan. You may not always be able to jump in a pool or stick your head in a freezer, so portable fans are the next best option to help with those pesky hot flashes. This one from Honeywell is light, inexpensive, and battery or USB-powered.

Vaginal Lubricant. A drop in hormones as we age can lead to vaginal dryness, so for many women, lube is a must. A few companies have even developed lube specifically for menopausal women, such as this prescription-only cream from Alloy. Or you could try this best-seller from Amazon.

Supplements. I find biotin, vitamin D, CBD and fish oil helpful for various issues like mood and hair loss. As always, check with a medical professional to see which vitamins and supplements might be most helpful for your unique needs. Stripes is Naomi Watts’ line of menopause products sold through Amazon and Sephora.

What do YOU think has been the hardest part of menopause? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health