04 May Menopause Symptoms & Solutions: Thriving During Your Midlife
By: Karin Salzman, PT
Supporting our clients of all ages and through their life stages is an important part of the care we provide here at Vital. The Perimenopause years, Menopause and Post-menopausal years are often not spoken about enough. If you are in your 20’s or 30’s and reading this you may be thinking, “Menopause is an ETERNITY away, this doesn’t apply to me,” but we advise you to read on. Going into menopause comfortably has EVERYTHING to do with how well you prepare. If you are currently premenopausal, have reached menopause or are post-menopausal, you have come to the right place!
Let’s start by defining menopause.
You are officially in menopause after you have gone 1 full year without a period. This often happens in your 40’s or 50’s, with the average age being 51 in the US. But, hormonal changes may begin a decade or more prior to Menopause — this is the period we call perimenopause. At this stage is when our reproductive hormones begin to shift with estrogen and progesterone declining at different rates and causes the start of symptoms similar to those we know of in menopause.
What changes can I expect?
Beginning in perimenopause, you may start to notice changes in your periods or monthly cycle — they may be longer or shorter, heavier or lighter then they were previously. It may be harder for you to maintain your ideal weight, sleep may elude you (disrupted due to hot flashes), and you may wake up feeling unrefreshed.
You may also notice more significant mood swings, sadness and depression, difficulty concentrating and brain fog. Your vaginal area may start to feel dry and sex sometimes becomes more uncomfortable. Bladder habits may also change; Increased urinary frequency and perhaps leaking or incontinence may occur. These symptoms are common and we are led to believe that they are a normal part of the midlife experience and we should ‘buckle in’ for the ride.
However, with proper preparation and a good support team around you, you CAN glide through Menopause more smoothly.
Strategies to help you THRIVE through Menopause
I’d like to suggest 3 strategies to empower YOU through your midlife change!
1. Knowledge is power!
Arm yourself with reliable and reputable information about menopause. Studies show that women who were informed about changes of midlife were less impacted by symptoms and had more positive emotional responses to those changes. Many resources are available online and at your local library, but be sure to source out high-quality information from good sources.
2. Lifestyle choices matter!
As the hormonal balance of our bodies begins to shift, what used to work for us may no longer work, or may even end up working against us. For many years I would share an espresso with my husband before bed and go off to dreamland with no problem. I had to re-evaluate this beloved ritual as I noticed it impacted the quality of my sleep. Red wine may also have similar effects before bed! Being open to evaluating midlife lifestyle choices in the areas of nutrition, sleep, stress management, exercise and social relationships can have a significantly beneficial impact on how well you ease into menopause.
3. Create a personalized healthcare team to support you!
Hopefully you have a great family physician looking after your medical care, but you may want to consider seeking the specialized knowledge of other healthcare professionals too. For instance, a naturopath can help to optimize your midlife diet and hormonal balance. A fitness professional can also design a personalized fitness program catered to the changing needs of your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system. Importantly, a women’s health physiotherapist (pelvic health physiotherapist) can address bladder, bowel and sexual symptoms that often come up for women in midlife.
Remember that leaking, urinary frequency, pelvic heaviness and pressure and pain with intercourse are NOT normal! Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to get help. Also, don’t neglect your social and emotional support experts. Finding a psychologist, pelvic health physio, or social worker to help you navigate menopause can make help make your journey smoother, enjoyable and empowering.
The best part is, you have all of Team Vital on your side! We are here to help empower YOU through this time in your life.
Thriving in midlife is possible and I wish you a pleasant journey!
Learn more about Karin here!