Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Menopause - Part 1

Okay ladies, lets talk about that time we all hate to dread, the 'menopause'.  I'm a 46 year old woman, and I know its looming, but luckily haven't had any of the pre-menopausal signs yet.

So exactly what is the menopause and what can we do to reduce its effects.  The menopause is a natural part of our life's, that signals the end of our child bearing years and the time leading up to our final menstrual period (yeah to that!).   

Ladies can start the transition period or 'perimenopause' sometimes as early as 40 or 10 - 15 years before your actual last period .  The menopause is considered to be over once you've had one year with no periods, the average age for this being around 51 - 55.  Ask your mum when she started hers, because you'll probably follow her pattern.

We'll all cope with this 'change' differently, some will sail through with minimal difficulty, while others may experience a variety of symptoms ranging from the mildly annoying to complete disruption!

What causes the Menopause

The menopause occurs when your ovaries no longer have a supply of eggs to release each month as they did during your fertile years.  The monthly menstrual cycle is the release of the egg down into the Fallopian tube and into the uterus.  If the egg is not fertilised it will pass out of the body with some of the womb lining (menstruation).    This process is under the control of hormones, namely oestrogen and progesterone which are produced by our ovaries.  Around the age of 45 few eggs remain and the ovaries reduce their production of both oestrogen and progesterone until it stops altogether.

During this time, the female body has to adjust from a life that has been dominated by female hormones and the menstrual cycle.  It is this decline in the female hormones that results in symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats (and even day sweats), tiredness, fatigue, mood swings, depression and aches and pains.  And I probably haven't covered everything! 

Here's some things you can try to help live with the Menopause:

  • Avoid getting too hot.  Dress in layers of clothing so you can put on and take off as necessary.
  • Sleep in a cool room with the windows open or use a fan.
  • Keep cool by avoiding hot soups and hot drinks.
  • Avoid triggers for hot flushes such as alcohol or spicy foods.
  • When a hot flush starts to develop, try and take some deep slow and controlled breaths.
  • Find a relaxation class such as Tai Chi, Yoga or the Alexander Technique.
  • Take regular moderate exercise to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Eat a sensible diet (more on that in Part 2)

Click on this link to read more on the effect of exercise and the menopause http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2165864/Exercise-keeps-hot-flushes-bay-menopausal-women.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

It can be a difficult time, but as we've said the menopause is a natural part of a females life, so stay positive, implement some of the things stated and we'll come out the other end :)

In part 2 we'll look at the Menopause & Diet.

All the best.

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