Menopause is usually a natural process defined as the permanent end of menstruation. The definition is made 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.
Physio can help with many factors that affect women during menopause such as:
- Decreased pelvic floor strength
- Vaginal dryness
- Tissue atrophy
- Vaginal wall thinning
- Vaginal shortening
- Painful sex
- Prolapse symptoms (heaviness, bulging, pain)
Doing more exercise is often suggested to women around this time of change.
How does exercise help 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 & improving balance.
Exercise can also help with:
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Psychological symptoms often seen such as depression, anxiety and impaired memory and concentration
- Joint pain, headaches and dizziness
- Maintenance of bone mineral density
- Reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- Improved endothelial function (reducing risk of atherosclerotic changes and high blood pressure)
- Improved insulin sensitivity (reducing risk of diabetes and issues with blood sugars)
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved mental health and wellbeing
- Increased quality of life
Women’s Health Physio are experts at helping women through the periods of major change in their lives – such as pregnancy, childbirth, post-natally and menopause.