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Matt Hardy

Let’s talk about the Menopause

Welcome to (or back) to my blog.

In this blog I want to talk about the menopause. The menopause is something that unfortunately is still a taboo subject for many, it is (in my opinion) poorly treated and often left too long before intervention starts. A stat that surprised me whilst researching for this blog was that 1 in 100 women will reach menopause before the age of 40!

Why is it important that we spot and address the menopause early?

Well, like everything, early intervention is the best way to treat the menopause. Spotting the early signs and symptoms is really important so you can get booked in to see you doctor, get diagnosed and assess your treatment options. This will reduce the risk of the symptoms becoming more extreme and will take less time to settle with treatment.

The early phase is called the perimenopause. In perimenopause oestrogen levels begin to fall and the hormone that stimulates the egg in the ovary called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) increases.

The signs of perimenopause are:

  1. Irregular periods – this includes, longer and shorter periods and time between or absence for periods of time
  2. Vaginal dryness
  3. Loss or reduced sex drive
  4. Hot flushes
  5. Chills
  6. Night sweats
  7. Changes to sleep pattern
  8. Mood changes
  9. Weight gain
  10. Thinning hair and skin
  11. Loss of great fullness

Changes you may also feel

  1. Reduced energy
  2. Reduced muscle mass
  3. Reduced bone density
  4. Longer recovery from exercise
  5. Reduced performance
  6. More frequent muscular pain
  7. More niggly injuries
  8. Longer recovery time
  9. Feeling sore after training more than usual (DOMS)

How is it diagnosed?

Firstly its a blood test to assess your oestrogen and FSH levels. The test will be looking for decrease in oestrogen and an increase in FSH. Normally this is determined by 2 tests 4-6 weeks apart. The official definition of menopause is when someone hasn’t had a period for 12 months. So this is also taken into account when diagnosing. The average age of menopause in the UK is between 45 and 55 with a mean of 51. 1 in 100 women will reach menopause before the age of 40!

Treatment for the menopause

The main treatment for the menopause is hormone replacement therapy or HRT. This treatment’s aim is to rebalance your hormones to a more normal/premenopause level. This can help reduce symptoms. Another form of hormone therapy is small dose testosterone. Although this is predominantly the ‘male’ hormone, it is starting to be used more regularly for ladies during menopause. Yes ladies you do have some testosterone naturally too. This has been shown in some studies to increase energy levels and help to manage more of the muscle and skeletal effects of the menopause. Don’t worry it won’t make your voice break!

What if I can’t take hormones or don’t want too?

Great question. Conservative management should also be incorporated whether you take HRT or not and it consists as follows

  1. Controlled diet – with an emphasis on protein consumption and reducing sugar intake
  2. Hydration – making sure you drink plenty of water and get the right salt balance
  3. Regular cardio vascular exercise. This doesn’t have to mean running! Walking, swimming or cycling are great low impact options
  4. Some resistance training. This doesn’t have to be in a gym. This could include body weight exercises at home or yoga
  5. Good sleep ‘hygiene’. Make sure you get into a good routine for sleep. Stop using electrical devices at least an hour before bed. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. If you don’t get to sleep within half an hour get back up, give it 20 mins then go back to bed (repeat until you get to sleep). Finally try to get up at the same time everyday.

The final take away I want you to take from this is, the menopause although isn’t very nice, is normal. But, don’t suffer alone. Get tested early and push your doctor for information on all treatment options. Work with professionals that can help with nutrition and exercise if you’re not confident with it.

I recommend watching the documentary that Davina McCall did recently for channel 4 on this subject. It’s a great documentary and will talk through all of the points I’ve mentioned in this blog.

I hope this helps and if I can help you with your exercise journey through the menopause please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I have also recently written a blog on the menstrual cycle which you may also be interested in. Click back on the blog page to find it.

If you do have an ache or a pain please book in for a 1-1 session using this link, I’d love to help