The menopause is a mystery to many women and we are rarely prepared for it. The menopause historically has been a subject women didn’t speak openly about, or publically about. Thankfully, the conversation around the menopause has opened in the last few years which has helped many women understand their symptoms, and more importantly know that there are treatments available to help.
What are the stages of the menopause?
Hormone balance begins to change at this phase and starts typically a few years before periods stop. During this peri-menopausal phase, symptoms of the menopause may be present at some stages
A woman is said to have reached the menopause if she has not had a period for 1 year, however, the menopause may have kicked in leading up to this time. During this stage, hormone levels begin to fall, which results in menopausal symptoms
“Postmenopause is a term to describe the time after someone has gone through menopause. When you’re in postmenopause, your menstrual period has been gone for longer than 12 consecutive months. At this stage in life, your reproductive years are behind you and you’re no longer ovulating (releasing eggs). The menopausal symptoms you’ve experienced in the past may become milder or go away completely. However, some people continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or longer after menopause.”
What can I do?
Diet and exercise are important at any age. During menopause, and especially during the years leading up to menopause, it is vital we take care of our body and mind. During this time, we may be prone to mood swings, weight gain and many other symptoms that won’t be cured by a good diet and lifestyle, but can be exacerbated by a poor diet and lack of exercise. Let’s have a look through some simple tips
During this time of life, metabolism slows down so exercise is crucial. Weight gain can be a problem which can leave us feeling sluggish and sometimes worsening our mood. During this age, weight-bearing exercise is important, as falling oestrogen levels can affect muscle tone. Weight-bearing exercise is great for keeping bones strong, and can also improve insulin sensitivity.
Eating a healthy balanced diet and keeping hydrated are essential during this time. As the body is changing, a poor diet may wreak havoc on your energy levels and mood. Simple dietary advice such as eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, choosing slow-release carbohydrates and choosing lean protein sources are easy choices that can have a huge impact on your body. Eating a diet poor in nutrients, or skipping meals and living mainly on coffee will stress the body and further exacerbate your low energy levels
If you are struggling with sleep, try to avoid caffeine after 2 pm. If we drink coffee after 2 pm, some of us will still have some caffeine in the system when it’s time to go to bed, which will leave us staring at the ceiling for hours into the night!
Drinking plenty of water during the menopause is essential as dehydration can worsen symptoms you may already be experiencing. Dehydration can wreak havoc on your skin, and you may already be experiencing dry skin. Mood and memory can be affected by low water intake, as can fatigue and bladder infections. If you don’t like drinking cold water, herbal caffeine-free teas are a great way to up your water intake!
Rest and relaxation
The menopause is commonly a time in a woman’s life when anxiety and stress may be high. During this time, placing emphasis on activities that actively engage the relaxation response may be quite beneficial. For some, the choice may be yoga or meditation. Simply 15 minutes a day can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for triggering the relaxation response. If you are new to yoga, or hesitant to try it, a good place to start is a chair yoga class. If you are new to meditation, there are some brilliant apps to try, headspace is our app of choice.
If you prefer to take a walk when stressed, walking in nature has been shown to have positive effects on the body and mind, especially the nervous system. Walking by the sea, or walking in nature (barefoot is preferable if you dare!). These are activities that may be worth prioritising daily as a way to bring the body and mind into balance.