World Menopause Day
Menopause and Health
This world Menopause day we are talking about how the menopause can affect our health and wellbeing and what lifestyle steps we can take to combat any symptoms as well as support overall health. Here are our top tips from our multidisciplinary team:
During perimenopause and menopause, it is not uncommon for women to gain weight. This is often due to the hormonal changes of menopause and you are more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. As we get older, our muscle mass reduces which means that we may need to consume fewer calories to maintain the same weight. Other factors that cause weight gain are lifestyle, genetics and a reduction in physical activity and/ or becoming more sedentary.
Diet can have an important role in supporting you through menopause, including symptom management, weight management, bone health and wellbeing.
Click here for comprehensive evidence-based diet information.
Perimenopause and menopause can cause changes in hormone levels which can trigger fluctuations in your blood sugar level and may play a significant part in the increase chance of a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. It is hard to separate the effects of menopause from the effects of age and weight gain. It is therefore important to make healthy actions to your overall quality of life. Do not feel embarrassed about discussing your body changes with your GP. It is important that you receive the help you need.
Since oestrogen declines as we transition through menopause, the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) is higher especially if you are already experiencing high blood pressure (Hypertension). If your blood pressure is high, your heart works harder with every heartbeat. Consuming a diet that is heart healthy is essential.
For more information on heart health, click here.
From the age of 35; we all lose calcium from our bones however, during menopause the loss of oestrogen increases the rate of loss which increases the risk of osteoporosis. Oestrogen is just one hormone that acts as a natural protector and defender of bone strength.
To support your bone health, key things you can do include weight bearing activities and ensuring your diet is sufficient in calcium as well as maintaining a good vitamin D level.
Taking part in physical activity may not only help prevent weight gain it is also a great stress reducer. Regular activity, particularly weight training, has been shown to reduce the number and intensity of hot flushes. Including activities such as resistance training is vital in maintaining and building muscle mass.
Weight bearing activities include fast walking, hiking, cycling, playing racket sports, skipping, stair climbing, dancing and resistance training. These types of activities will help to offset osteoporosis during the menopause. Every minute counts and enjoyment is key.
For more information on physical activity click here.
Fluids including alcohol
There are certain fluids including alcohol that can make symptoms, particularly hot flushes, worse. These include caffeinated drinks, like tea and coffee, carbonated caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
If you are sensitive, then it is advisable to choose decaffeinated fluids and reduce alcohol consumption. If you notice symptoms are worse, it may be best to avoid these triggers. Avoiding alcohol before bed is another tip as alcohol can reduce a person’s quality of sleep. It is also important to stay hydrated.
Reduce stress as much as possible. During perimenopause and menopause, the fluctuation of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone in the body, can cause feelings of anxiety or depression. It is important to seek support from your health care professional if you feel you are experiencing these symptoms.
Stress can increase the number of hot flushes/night sweats which will also disrupt the body’s sleep pattern. Stress can also cause the body to produce more cortisol and therefore become more insulin resistant; increasing the risk of weight gain and developing Type 2 diabetes.
You may want to consider the following to help reduce stress levels: breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, and regular activity are all helpful ways to relax your nervous system and offset anxiety. Taking time for yourself is important.
Sleep can reduce the inflammation that arrives as we age. If you aren’t sleeping, then overnight your body struggles to heal and your immune system doesn’t recover. Inadequate sleep has been associated with poor health outcomes in people as they age, for example obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases.
Ensure your bedroom is comfortably cool, you may want to have a fan nearby. If you suffer from hot flushes/night sweats, consider sleeping naked or opt for cooler fabrics made from natural fibres like cotton. Avoid nicotine/smoking, caffeine, and alcohol, especially in the late afternoon and early evening as these substances can disrupt sleep.
If possible, minimise your use of devices/screen time for at least one hour before bed and/or consider wearing blue-light blocking glasses in the evening. If you can, follow a sleep schedule i.e. going to bed and waking up at the same time.
If applicable, please seek support to stop smoking as it has been found to be a common trigger for hot flushes as well as worsening bone and heart health.
For more information on how to quit smoking click here.
Whilst everyone’s experience of the menopause is different; it’s important to note you are not alone and there are others out there experiencing similar things to you and who are willing to offer support. We have included links below for further information and support: