Most of the menopausal women need options that they can use instead of or in addition to whatever treatment they have for hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms.
Alternative therapies, lifestyle changes and behavioural interventions can be important for individuals who are not able to take hormone therapies due to other medical conditions, drug interactions or who simply prefer not to take medications.
Deep breathing, paced respiration or any other sort of breathing exercise technique represents a behavioural intervention which may help to reduce symptoms related to menopause.
Many relaxation-based interventions targeting hot flush have included paced respiration or other breathing training programs as one of several treatment components. These interventions have been tested in healthy peri- and postmenopausal women and in samples of breast cancer survivors.
Perhaps because slow deep breathing seems risk-free and accessible, menopause practitioners may have altered the tested protocol to a more generalized set of instructions to suit patient needs in practice.
Paced respiration is slow, deliberate, deep abdominal breathing that is sustained for a specified period of time similar to that taught in yoga and other meditative disciplines.
Evidence to date suggests that paced respiration at 6 to 8 breaths per minute and when practised for 15 minutes, twice per day and applied at the onset of hot flushes can be helpful for healthy peri- and postmenopausal women in decreasing both the number and severity of this bothersome menopausal symptom.
One of the techniques recommended managing hot flush is to breathe deeply. Inhale deeply and then exhale, trying to make your exhalation as long as your inhalation. Repeat several times as needed.
Women with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or emphysema may need to do this under expert supervision.
Yoga is an ancient discipline of the mind, body, and spirit originating in India at least 4000 years ago. It involves physical poses, breathing exercises (Pranayama), and meditation to calm the mind, increase awareness, and enhance both mental and physical well-being.
The simple meaning of Mindfulness is ‘remembering and maintaining to be aware’ – of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surroundings whether it be during meditation, or while doing anything, anywhere, anytime.
Being mindful involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them.
It is generally considered a method taught and practised in the context of Buddhism, which is a non-sectarian philosophy founded in India around 400BC by the Buddha Shakyamuni.
A multi-component program which combines the ancient practices of yoga and mindfulness meditation was developed in the late 1970’s by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to cultivate awareness and reduce stress, typically including breathing, stretching, and other relaxation exercises.
A simple explanation of meditation is it’s a concept about clearing the mind of thoughts and achieve the subconscious state of mind. For most of us, the ability to fully still the mind is beyond our potential and so when we come to try meditation without proper guidance, we may think we’ve failed if the thoughts just keep coming and so we give up.
There are numerous Physiological, Psychological and Spiritual benefits of meditation. However, Practising meditation in daily life is necessary to achieve the highest state of mind.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION was developed by Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s is a technique for reducing stress and inducing calm by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles.
APPLIED RELAXATION was developed in the late 1970’s to train individuals to relax rapidly even when exposed to anxiety-provoking situations.
Tai Chi has originated in China centuries ago. Tai Chi uses slow, flowing, dance-like body movements, coupled with deep breathing to achieve mental and physical balance, relaxation, focus, and awareness.
- Germaine LM, Freedman RR. Behavioural treatment of menopausal hot flashes: evaluation by objective methods. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1984;52(6):1072-1079.
- Rada G, Capurro D, Pantoja T, et al. Non-hormonal interventions for hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010(9):CD004923
- Carmody, James et al. “Mindfulness Training for Coping with Hot Flashes: Results of a Randomized Trial.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 18.6 (2011): 611–620. PMC. Web. 19 Aug. 2017.