Menopause Awareness Day 2023
Menopause is a natural and inevitable stage in a woman’s life, marking the end of her reproductive years. Menopause Awareness Day, observed on October 18th, is an opportunity to shed light on this significant life transition, providing women with essential information, support, and awareness about its various aspects.
It seems that there is a vast misunderstanding or general lack of knowledge about menopause. It’s a perfectly natural process that will be experienced by anyone who has a period.
Benenden Health has reported that more than a quarter of men in the UK don’t know what menopause is, and only half believe they know someone who has experienced it. Additionally, almost a fifth of respondents noted they didn’t or wouldn’t support someone going through it. Menopause Awareness Day is certainly a necessity!
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the time of a woman’s life when she has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. This most commonly occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Age 51 is the average age, but it can happen earlier or later. It’s a natural biological process that marks the end of her reproductive years. It is caused by lower hormone levels, which can be associated with a host of symptoms and challenges in the process.
While it occurs naturally for the most part, menopause can also arise as a result of other factors:
- Surgery – removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy), or the uterus (hysterectomy).
- Cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
- Genetic reasoning.
Menopause is infamously associated with some far-from-desirable symptoms. The onset of symptoms is known as perimenopause. Perimenopause is the period (if you’ll pardon the pun) where you have symptoms of menopause, but are still menstruating. On average, perimenopause tends to last around 4 years. However, it can be much shorter or longer, depending on the person, as it requires at least 12 consecutive months of no periods, perimenopause will last an absolute minimum of a year.
What to expect
As mentioned, the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be difficult to deal with but are important to be aware of.
- Hot Flushes
Hot flushes are one of the most common and well-known symptoms of menopause, and manifest as sudden, intense sensations of heat that can cause sweating and discomfort, and can make you feel dizzy.
- Night Sweats
Night sweats are essentially hot flushes that occur at night. They can make it difficult to sleep through the night, which can lead to tiredness and irritability during the day.
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Before reaching full menopause, women often experience irregular periods. They which can be shorter, longer, lighter, or heavier than usual.
- Vaginal Dryness
A decrease in oestrogen levels during menopause can lead to vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort, as well as during sex.
- Mood Swings and Brain Fog
As your hormones start to fluctuate, it is common to experience hormonal fluctuations, resulting in mood swings, feelings of anxiety or depression, and brain fog (problems with memory or concentration).
These are five of the most commonly experienced symptoms, but there are of course other common symptoms that are listed here.
While it is a natural process, it’s understandable why someone may want to alleviate their menopause symptoms, and fortunately, there are some means of doing so.
Adjusting your Nutrition
While there may be a tendency to eat more comfort-style foods, including ingredients like soy, dairy, and fatty fish can be greatly helpful in alleviating some symptoms, such as hot flushes and brain fog. They can also work to reduce the risk of bone loss.
We have much more detail on this in our previous piece – Supporting Menopause and Beyond Through Nutrition.
Reducing ‘Trigger’ Items
While substances like caffeine and alcohol may help alleviate some symptoms, such as tiredness and sleep disturbances, the bad normally outweighs the good, these, along with spicy food, are well-known triggers of hot flushes. Try reducing these where possible to reduce your instances of hot flushes.
A tale as old as time, but regularly engaging in weight-bearing activities, for example, walking, running, and dancing, has also been shown to reduce symptoms of hot flushes. It can also improve sleep quality, and even reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Giving up smoking, if you do, can also help reduce hot flushes. This can also reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions, like cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
There are also a number of cooling measures you can take to reduce hot flushes;
- Keeping your bedroom cool at night. This could mean opening a window, running a fan, or air conditioning, if you have it.
- Wearing loose, cotton pyjamas. These tend to be more breathable and can help you feel cooler.
- Leaving an ice pack in the bed before you go to sleep – the converse of a hot water bottle in the winter.
While the above won’t eliminate your symptoms, it should lend a hand in reducing the severity and frequency of them. Hence, making them more manageable overall.
Menopause Awareness Day is an important opportunity to educate women about this natural transition in their lives. It is also a time to educate men on what their loved ones may be going through, or will go through later in life.
While menopause brings challenges and symptoms, understanding the process and available options, including small dietary and lifestyle changes, can help women navigate this phase with grace and confidence, supported by the men surrounding them. With the right information and support, women can embrace menopause as a new chapter in their lives, full of possibilities and continued well-being.
Fresh Fitness Food provides personalised meals plans delivered straight to your door, ensuring not only that you have the nutrients you need to manage your stress levels, but also that you have the time usually spent shopping, cooking and washing up, to engage in your favourite stress reducing activity. To discuss which nutrition plan is right for you, book a call with our in-house nutrition team here.
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