The 'M' word has often been a taboo subject. Many women enter this phase of life and feel they can't ask for help and that they should 'just get on with it' and suffer in silence. However, there is help out there!
Here are my top 10 basic facts all women (and men!) should know about the Menopause.
1. There are 4 Stages to the Menopause: a. Pre-Menopause - before you enter the Peri-Menopause b. Peri-Menopause - the stage leading up to the Menopause
d. Post-Menopause - after the Menopause
2. Key Changes take place in the body:
Reproduction hormone levels change
Progesterone and Oestrogen BOTH decline
Periods become erratic
3. There are many Symptoms of Menopause - these occur during the Peri-Menopause phase and can last up to 10 years. This is by no means an exhaustive list:
Vaginal dryness & loss of libido
Irritability & mood swings
4. There is such a thing as Premature Menopause. This is when the Menopause happens in your 30's - this can perhaps be due to illness or medical intervention.
5. The meaning of Menopause is "monthly pause" in Greek. We only actually reach the Menopause when periods have stopped for a full year. It is a natural part of the ageing process. The definition is the point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural stop of eggs being released. The average age of Menopause is currently 52 years of age.
6. You can still get pregnant!
You still need contraception right up until it is confirmed that you haven't had a period for a full year. If you bleed before the age of 50 you'll need contraception for a further 2 years. The Mirena Coil or Combined Pill help reduce heavy bleeding and increase the intake of progesterone and both help to stop heavy periods.
7. Things we should avoid to help reduce our symptoms:
8. What we can do to help us feel better in this phase of life:
Try herbal remedies - Black Cohosh is known to help night sweats & hot flashes; Evening Primrose is also known for helping with hot flashes and helping with the hormonal changes associated with Menopause
Ask for Help - go to your doctor especially if you are struggling with your symptoms and request a hormone test to determine your hormone levels (blood test or urine sample) and whether you are suffering with the Menopause symptoms (or if it could be an Adrenal or Thyroid issue instead). You can also discuss treatments such as HRT and what might be right for you.
Improve your diet and nutrition - know what to increase and what to avoid & seek advice from an expert in Women's Health.
Try to sleep better by taking exercise and creating a cool dark environment
Take regular exercise and know what is best for your body. Benefits of exercise are vital for reducing moderate depression, mood swings, relaxation and for de-stressing. Find someone who specialises in Women's health and fitness and offers relevant classes.
9. Take extra care of ourselves AFTER the Menopause and be aware of a higher risk of the following:
Particular changes caused by declining hormone levels: i. Bone Health and osteoporosis ii. Lower sexual function iii. Hair loss iv. Vaginal dryness
10. Take more of the right exercise. What should we be doing at this time of life in the way of moving and exercising our bodies?
The best types of regular exercise are Pilates, Strength training, Yoga, Meditation, Walking, Cycling and Running because they include the following important aspects:
Note about the Author: Sara Rounce is Founder of The Wellwoman Fitness Foundation and specialises in Women's Health & Fitness. She has been teaching Pilates for over 17 years and is passionate about helping women, covering Pre & Postnatal, Pelvic Floor Health, Menopause, Bone Health, Breast Cancer Recovery & Fitness Later in Life.
Sara teaches regular on-line Pilates-based Women's Fitness classes and workshops from her studio in South West Surrey incorporating all aspects key for balancing a Woman's body through the different phases of life.
Please visit www.thewellwomanfitnessfoundation.co.uk for further information.