Thriving through menopause: tips for a healthier, happier transition

Menopause is usually a natural process defined as the permanent end of menstruation, defined 12 months after the final menstrual period. Menopause can also be the result of surgery such as a hysterectomy, or as a side effect from cancer treatment as the ovaries stop producing oestrogen. 

Perimenopause is the initial stage of menopause and sees fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels. Perimenopause can last anywhere between 1 and 10 years but has an average duration of 4 to 6 years. During perimenopause your menstrual bleed may become irregular, either less frequent or more frequent, or have a continually changing pattern. 

Bleeds may also become heavier or lighter and symptoms of hot flushes, disrupted sleep and mood disturbances often begin. Early onset menopause is when a woman experiences her final menstrual cycle before the age of 45 years, and premature menopause is prior to the age of 40. Premature or early onset menopause can be as a result of pharmacotherapies, surgery, or can occur naturally. 

What are the benefits of exercise for Menopause?

Staying active and participating in individualised exercise can help with both symptom management of menopause and long-term optimal health. The fall in oestrogen levels that occur during perimenopause and menopause are responsible for many of the symptoms reported – including hot flushes, disrupted sleep, and mood disturbances. Oestrogen affects many systems within the body which is why there is such a wide variety of changes at menopause. Exercise can help with optimising long-term health after menopause – including maintaining bone mineral density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis or osteopenia, reducing cardiovascular risk factors, maintaining a healthy weight range, pelvic floor health and improving balance.

Exercise can help with the management of symptoms such as:

  • hot flushes and night sweats
  • Psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, impaired memory and concentration
  • Joint pain, headaches, and dizziness

Exercise in post-menopausal and peri-menopausal women can result in:

  • Maintenance of bone mineral density
  • Reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Improved insulin sensitivity (reducing diabetes risk)
  • Improved mental health and wellbeing
  • Increased quality of life

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