Tackling the menopause can be quite daunting. Firstly, we deal with letting go of the idea of remaining youthful forever. Secondly, the acceptance of the ageing process.
Psychologically, these are vast adaptations to face alone, never mind the physical challenges.
Physically, symptoms can be erratic, overwhelming and demanding.
Unless you are post-menopausal, or peri-menopausal, the process and reactions our bodies go through can be quite hard to comprehend, particularly if you have a loved one experiencing ‘the change’.
It is a challenging time and scary for those going through this, as well as for the one watching and observing these changes. Partners, we understand your pain and appreciate your patience!
Light at the end of the Tunnel
Whilst in the midst of this life change, it can often be scary and unpredictable.
In contrast however, by the time you reach post menopause, it is reported by a great many, of the utter relief that it is over!
So, it appears, there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Phew, I hear you sigh!
The Menopause is a natural phenomenon that occurs when ovarian follicles diminish. The change in hormone production can leave us feeling all out of sorts.
The process usually begins in women who are in their mid-to-late 40’s. A final menstrual period (FMP) may occur between the ages of 45 and 55 and the average age of the menopause for women in the UK is at 51 years. You need to be clear of having a FMP for a full year before being classed as having reached menopause.
The term ‘early menopause’ relates to women experiencing the process before the age of 40, occurring in around 1% of women.
The menopause is a natural process which involves Luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels to rise in response to diminishing levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
Symptoms inclusive of hot flashes/hot flushes, sweats, increased tiredness, sleepless nights, leg cramps, hair loss and headaches are all real and taxing, but it does not have to prevent us from living our lives.
The whys of Trying to Cope
There is no full proof method in alleviating symptoms of the menopause. However, making adjustments may improve the severity of symptoms experienced, making it more bearable.
It goes without saying that each individual is unique in how their body adjusts and responds to the process of the menopause.
Living a healthy lifestyle is always advocated in any situation of life, relating to our longer term health and indeed longevity.
Following a simple method or plan and adhering to it may bring about a more pleasant journey and outcome in how we cope. That’s just psychology I hear you say, but try and see because you may surprise yourself into making it a more positive experience.
Above all….be patient and realise that we are all unique. Ageing is natural and we are all One in experiencing that too.
The beauty of ageing is to remain graceful through the process. Glass half full J.
The Method: Kick the Menace to the Curb
A method is something that we can all encompass and introduce into our daily living routines. Each small step taken to live a healthier life adds up and equates to feeling better. Immediate changes and adjustments don’t have to be huge and by initiating these small steps can lead to great results and an improved sense of well-being:
- Stop smoking
Smoking is attributed to many long term illnesses. However, in menopause, it can not only make symptoms more severe, but it is also known to hasten menopause by 1-2 years. By stopping smoking, you can reduce signs of premature ageing because of the menopause, reduce abdominal adipose caused by the menopause process but also further lower oestrogen levels, which causes thinning of hair and memory challenges in the menopausal process.
A great financial benefit and reason to kick this expensive habit!
- Reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol sensitivity increases with age but is also known to contribute to worsening severity of symptoms during the menopause. It is reported by experts that alcohol increases the risk of cancer, heart problems and osteoporosis during the menopause. Alcohol contributes to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, stroke and obesity. Recommended drinking during the menopause is one drink per day – that is one unit in terms of measures.
It goes without saying, reducing alcohol consumption has many benefits and would not be a loss to your pocket either!
- Reduce caffeine intake
This one can be tricky as most of us depend on our morning and mid-afternoon caffeine fix. Reduction of caffeine has many benefits, but to name a couple – it triggers physiological responses which increases the production of a hormone known as cortisol. The physiological effect of raised cortisol levels leads to increased stress levels, increased heart rate and can induce anxiety.
Whilst initially, a caffeine fix provides us with the temporary alertness and energy we require to get going, these quickly plummet alongside the levels of caffeine in our system, having the complete opposite effect.
Caffeine is also known to interfere with the absorption of Calcium – important in your diet during the menopause in preserving bone health.
- Nutritional intake and supplementation
There is no evidence to suggest that taking Calcium supplements or increasing calcium in your diet reduces the severity of menopausal symptoms. However, the menopause is directly linked to the loss of bone density, a process that occurs due to the post-menopausal ageing process, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis – brittle bone disease. A diet rich in Calcium may help in keeping your bones healthier for longer.
- Aerobic exercise and losing excess weight
There is an increased risk of weight gain during the menopause, which in turn leads to many other health related issues, including Diabetes, Stroke and Heart problems.
Aerobic activities increase your heart rate, provide oxygenation delivery at a cellular level and increase your metabolism, thus leading to weight loss.
Jogging, cycling, skipping and fast walking are good ways to increase your heart rate. If you live a completely sedentary life, walking alone will assist and have many health related benefits. The idea is to start gently and gradually increase your activity levels over time, in a safe way.
- Weight Training
Resistance training and strength exercises alongside the use of weights is linked and proven to maintain bone health post menopause.
Weight training encourages the production of osteoblasts – cells which are responsible in bone growth, hence delaying the process of osteoporosis.
Weights are not our enemy Ladies, they are an ally in preserving bone health, to looking more toned and feeling better!
The trinity of health can be seen as increased activity, weight loss and an improved sense of well-being. The by product is improved health status and looking good. A win win!!
I hope this article helps and summarises for you simple ways in which you can improve your individual journeys in feeling better through the Menace of the Menopause.
I leave you with this….
Trust the process Ladies, more importantly I dare you to enjoy the process.
By Sandy S Pandya
L3 Reps Personal Trainer
Advanced Nurse Practitioner RGN. BSc. PG Diploma.