Menopause Awareness Month: A Guide to Understanding, and Thriving
Menopause Awareness Month is an annual observance that aims to shed light on a natural, yet often misunderstood, phase in a woman's life.
This month is dedicated to educating women and the public about the realities of menopause, breaking down stigmas, and providing resources for healthy ageing. With the theme for Menopause Awareness Month 2023 focusing on "Empowerment Through Education" let's delve into why this month is so crucial.
Menopause Awareness Month in the UK
In the UK, Menopause Awareness Month has gained significant traction in recent years thanks to a number of high profile celebrities and doctors such as Davina McCall, Lisa Snowden, Mariella Frostrup, Dr Louise Newson and Dr Annice Mukherjee to name just a few. While the UK government has introduced guidelines for employers to better understand and support women going through menopause they have fallen short in introducing meaningful consultation and legislation.
Understanding Menopause: The Basics
Menopause is not just a one-time event but a transition that can last for several months or even years. It marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and brings about various physiological and psychological changes. It is a very personal journey and no one experience fits all
How Long Does Menopause Last?
The duration of menopause varies among women and symptoms can start years before and continue for years after, known as the perimenopausal and postmenopausal stages, respectively.
Resources for Menopause Awareness Month
Various organizations offer Menopause Awareness Month resources, including educational materials, posters, and online forums. These resources aim to empower women with the knowledge they need to navigate this phase confidently.
Menopause Awareness Month Poster Campaigns
Poster campaigns are a popular way to spread awareness. They often feature empowering messages and facts about menopause, aiming to educate both women and the broader public.
Empowerment Through Education
Menopause Awareness Month is not just about awareness but empowerment. By educating ourselves and others, we can break down the stigmas surrounding menopause and create a more supportive environment for women going through this natural phase of life.
Some helpful references below:
Menopausing: The Positive Roadmap to Your Second Spring, Davina McCall
Just Getting Started: Lessons in Life, Love and Menopause
Book by Lisa Snowdon
The Complete Guide to the Menopause: Your Toolkit to Take Control and Achieve Life-Long Health, Book by Annice Mukher
The Role of Exercise in Managing Menopause Symptoms
Exercise is not merely a buzzword when it comes to managing menopause symptoms; it's a lifeline. Physical activity can play a pivotal role in alleviating some of the most challenging aspects of menopause, from mood swings to weight gain. Here's how:
Combatting Weight Gain Through Exercise
One of the most common complaints during menopause is weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Exercise, especially aerobic activities like walking, swimming, or cycling, can help burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Strength training can also be beneficial in preserving muscle mass, which naturally declines with age. Working-up to walking around 10,000 steps a day is the goal, and it is easily achieved over time - as you get into the groove of making 'walking' part of your daily routine.
Improving Mental Health and Mood
Exercise is a natural mood booster. It releases endorphins, often referred to as "feel-good hormones," which can be incredibly beneficial for women experiencing mood swings or depression during menopause. Even a simple 30-minute walk each day can make a significant difference.
Mood Issues with Menopause
Many women experience mood swings, irritability, and even depression during menopause. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper sleep can help manage these symptoms.
Alleviating Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
While the research is still inconclusive, some studies suggest that regular exercise may help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes and night sweats. Activities like yoga and deep breathing exercises can also help manage stress, which is often a trigger for these symptoms.
Enhancing Sleep Quality
Many women report difficulty sleeping during menopause. Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. However, it's advisable to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as it may have the opposite effect.
Boosting Bone Health
The decline in oestrogen levels during menopause can lead to a decrease in bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, and strength training can help improve bone health and reduce this risk.
Exercise Tips for Menopausal Women
- Consult Your Healthcare Provider: Before starting any new exercise regimen, it's essential to consult your healthcare provider, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions.
- Start Slow: If you're new to exercise, start with low-impact activities like walking or swimming and gradually increase the intensity.
- Consistency is Key: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, as recommended by health experts.
- Listen to Your Body: Menopause is a time of change, and what worked for you before may not be suitable now. Pay attention to how your body responds to different types of exercise and adjust your routine accordingly.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine during menopause can significantly improve your quality of life. It's not just about managing symptoms but about empowering yourself to live your best life during this transformative phase.