If you have some of the symptoms of the menopause it’s always a good idea to look at the lifestyle factors that have been claimed to have benefits such as managing stress, avoiding certain foods and keeping physically active.

The menopause is usually diagnosed following 24 months without a period in women under 50 years of age. For women aged 50 and above, it is diagnosed after 12 months.

There's no definitive test to diagnose the menopause. A blood test is sometimes carried out to measure the level of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). However, the result only occasionally helps in managing the menopause.

The menopause is not an event that happens, it’s a process that includes the pre-menopause (that can begin many years before your last menstrual period), the perimenopause (averaging four years but sometimes up to ten years), the menopause (the date of your last period) and the post-menopause (with symptoms that usually tail off after a year or two).

Once you understand the physiological changes in the body you’ll be in a better position to understand what’s happening in your body and decide to opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Doctor can prescribe medications and if suitable prescribe well-known treatments for hormone replacement therapy. Get yourself diagnosed so you have no need to worry.

But it makes sense to also look at other ways you can keep healthy and control the menopausal symptoms, possibly allowing you to use medication for a shorter period and minimise any possible side effects.

Hormones and exercise for menopausal symptoms

Research suggests that women who are physically active may have fewer and milder vasomotor symptoms (including hot flushes, night sweats, sleep-disturbances) than sedentary women. This is literally a variable effect on the adrenergic or adrenalin receptors in the muscles of the arteries.

During the menopause the ovulatory cycle is often erratic and psychological distress may occur including depression, anxiety, irritability or fatigue. Essentially it’s a good idea to exercise or do anything that will have a positive impact on mood and sleeping patterns. You might find that exercising in the morning rather than the evening if more beneficial for sleep.

Putting on extra weight is one of the symptoms of the menopause. You dont need to go to a gym, you just need to incorporate simple exercisies and workouts in your daily routine. This will not only help you lose weight but also help reducing your risk of other health conditions such as stroke, heart disease, dementia anc certain cancers.

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation and other stress management techniques can also help menopausal symptoms. Several studies have found significant decreases (30% to 100%) in hot flushes with the use of relaxation and paced respiration (slow deep breathing), and with the use of coping skills training.

This is because the release of norepinephrine – one of the ‘fight or flight’ stress hormones - plays a role in the physiology of hot flushes. It’s believed that stress management techniques can have an ‘adrenergic’ effect on the nervous system, effectively softening the body’s adrenalin response by natural methods.

Menopause is a time of transition often coinciding with other life changes (body, family structure, relationships, job and so on). Some women may experience more urinary stress incontinence (poor bladder control) after menopause. This is because the pelvic floor muscles atrophy when oestrogen levels drop.

In this case you might benefit from the regular performance of pelvic floor or ‘Kegel’ exercises. Check with your doctor if incontinence has become a problem for you to make sure you are performing these exercises properly and that you receive other medical treatment if necessary.

Published by Calida Jenkins