The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age.
You may be glad to be getting rid of your pms and all that goes with the monthly’s but you may find like I did that menopause isn’t a piece of cake either!
We all enter the menopause in our time and in our own way and it can be super tough. So I wanted to share what I’ve learnt so far. I hope it helps you, your friends and or your family too.
Prescribed drugs took me down the path of a medical menopause last year. Monthly GNRH injections relieved me of my stage 4 Endometriosis symptoms. It was a huge relief to no longer have to cope with all the struggles of ovulation, in-cycle bleeding, heavy periods, extreme cramps, and constant fatigue and bloating. However despite getting rid of lots of nasty symptoms I soon experienced some different new menopausal symptoms.
This year I went on to have a full hysterectomy which included having both of my ovaries removed and my symptoms of menopause have remained pretty much the same. Now I know they are here to stay I’m managing them the best I can.
So here’s what I’m doing and what you could do too to manage your menopause:
1. Be aware of your personal symptoms of menopause
We are all individuals and not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Hot flushes are talked about and most people seem to know that they are common for women of a certain age but you may or may not get them.
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Dryness/ Itchy skin
- Brain fog
It’s worth making a list of what you suffer from and how often so that you can think about how much each symptom bothers you and how prepared you are to adapt your diet and lifestyle to reduce or stop the symptom or symptoms. Here’s the NHS list.
2. Be mindful of food and drink triggers
My body has always been sensitive to caffeine and alcohol. It just doesn’t deal with them very well. I’ve noticed now that when I drink them I do get more hot flushes and the same can be said for hot food, especially spicy food. Now I can’t say that I avoid them completely but it is a choice I have to make now. If I want to decrease or stop the hot flushes then I need to decrease or stop the coffee, alcohol or curry consumption. It’s simple really. Can you think of foods or drinks that are triggering your menopausal symptoms? How bad are they? Are you willing to find substitutes for the triggers so that you don’t have the symptoms anymore? I don’t bother with alcohol much at all now. I might have the odd glass of prosecco but that’s all. Instead I enjoy fizzy waters and interesting new teas. I’m a bit of a green tea addict. It’s taken me time to find alternatives but I feel better for them.
3. Sleep is your friend
It’s so important to enjoy a good night sleep. It helps your body keep healthy and ensures you have the energy for the next day ahead. At this time of year most people benefit from black out blinds. We’ve just bought a new mattress and pillows as we realised we were waking with aches and pains in our lower back and shoulders. So make sure your room is cosy and comfortable. If you wake and can’t get back to sleep try a breathing technique. Or have a read of how others have improved their sleep here
As I’m under 50 the NHS strongly advise taking HRT. You need some kind of oestrogen to protect your bones and heart health as women in menopause are at higher risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. So do have a chat with your GP and find out if HRT and if so which kind may be beneficial for you. I’m due to start mine next week and I’ll be thinking about my symptoms now and what changes I experience after taking it for the first month. There’s lots of HRT choices so I’ll be discussing with my GP if mine is working for me or if I want to try something else.
5. Exercise Well
The risk of osteoporosis is a reason for choosing to exercise but also to think about the right kind of exercise. Post menopause we need to choose exercise that doesn’t drain us. Less is more. 20 minutes of high intensity interval training which uses short sharp bursts of energy is better than an hour in the gym. It’s better for burning fat stores too. Choose your favourite exercise and e.g. walking, running or swimming and do fast laps until you can’t continue then slow laps. Then do the fast laps again and then slow again for 20 minutes. Combine this with a more restorative exercise like yoga, tai chi, pilates and you’ve got a great combination of exercises to alternate through the week. When you get bored change to something else. Remember to choose something you feel you’ll enjoy.
Menopause has definitely made me think differently about exercise. I’m joining a 20 20 20 group which uses a combination of aerobics – Resistance training/Boxercise – Mat work and abdominals. I’d never have chosen this before but it feels like what I need right now.
6. You can’t blame everything on the menopause
I get stressed and anxious a lot more easily these days. I can’t multi task like I used to. But I don’t think I can blame this on going through the menopause alone. In this day and age we could all do with relaxation tools and techniques. So think about what you could do to give your mind and body a break.
I use yoga, reflexology and reading to relax. I also spend as much time walking in nature as I can as I find it really gives me a boost. What can you do more of to relax and enjoy life?
I hope this helps you or a friend or family member think about how you can manage the menopause and feel the best you possibly can each and everyday.
I’ll let you know how I get on with the HRT.
All the best,