Menopause signifies the end of the reproductive time for a woman where the ovaries stop releasing eggs, and hormones like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone decrease in its production. As a woman edges closer to menopause, they may start to experience symptoms that may cause concern and bring along feelings of anxiety. The medical community call this the perimenopause or premenopauseterm and it has been evident in womenbetween the age range of 35 to 45 years old.
Here’s a checklist of symptoms that a woman may experience during the perimenopause period:
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood swings or getting easily irritated
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Dry skin
These perimenopause symptoms are precursors to menopause and last months to years (an average of 2 years, but every woman is different and will experience some of it at different stages in their lives) until reaching the menopause. Some women
How perimenopause symptoms affect you
Osteoporosis and muscles
Oestrogen plays a crucial role in the reproduction system. It also strengthens bones and helps the widening of blood vessels during exercise warm-up – known as the vasodilation process. Blood vessels dilate so the volume of blood flow increases and allows more oxygen to flow through the body.
If you’ve ever wondered why women experience hot flushes, here’s the explanation. Oestrogen production helps cool down the body and when the production of hormones fluctuates or reduces, blood pressure would also increase while blood flow decreases, leading to a rise in temperature in the body, brain and hypothalamus.
Drink an icy cold beverage, place a wet cold towel on your body or have a quick cold shower to cool down. It accelerates the vasoconstriction process, narrows your blood vessels and decreases the blood flow therefore resulting in lower body temperatures.
The body’s ability to build and maintain muscles is affected when the production of oestrogen and testosterone reduces. That’s why it becomes a greater challenge to achieve fitness performances of your younger days as you age.
How important is oestrogen? According to Dr. Jason Karp, author of Women and Running: “Oestrogen is the single biggest influence of bone health, so when a woman loses oestrogen, she loses the protective effect on bones,”.
Ligaments and Tendons
Oestrogen is necessary for our reproductive system, bones health, and also for collagen production. Less collagen production affects the elasticity of the ligaments and tendons as well.
It’s best to avoid smoking, excessive exposure to the sun, poor nutrition and stress if you wish to lessen the loss of your collagen. Above all, stay well hydrated. The constant reminder to, “Drink 1.5 litres of water per day”, is wise advice. Even if you don’t feel the need to drink or have the thirst, your body needs it, for your bones, your ligaments and tendons and for your skin.
Runners facing menopause
Runners are better prepared than non-active women to face menopause.
* Runners are already used to feeling the heat, so they’re able to cope better with feeling hot flushes. Running also helps improve uplift you and improve your mood because you secrete endorphin and dopamine – hormones that boost the feeling of pleasure and well-being.
* Runners naturally sleep better than non-active women who may often disturbed by night sweats.It’s always a better idea to run in the morning than in the evening, because it may take time to cool down before bedtime.
* Observe a specific diet as you head towards menopause so you can stabilise your weight. Your metabolism will not the same and you will need to tailor your diet to keep up with your performances.
* Running will help you to strengthen your bones by maintaining the muscle mass to lower the risk of injury and fractures.
How about HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)?
There are a few schools of thought on HRT and it’s a therapy that may not be suitable for everyone. Some believe HRT may increase the risk of developing some cancers or heart diseases by some women. So it’s best to seek the advice from your good and trusted family doctor. There are several alternatives to HRT for you to consider, and these are:
- Change of lifestyle: incorporating regular exercise, eating healthy, eliminating coffee, alcohol and spicy foods and not smoking
- Tibolone: a medication that’s similar to combined HRT (oestrogen and progestogen), but may not be as effective and is only suitable for women who had their last period more than a year ago
- Anti-depressants: Helps with hot flushes and night sweats, however expect unpleasant side effects such as agitation and dizziness
- Clonidine: A non-hormonal medicine that helps reduce hot flushes and night sweats
Tips on managing perimenopause symptoms
- Incorporate strength-training to your routine to maintain muscle mass and you’ll lessen the risk of osteoporosis.
- Eat more calcium- and magnesium-rich foods with dark green leafy vegetable and seeds, nuts and fish oil. Kale and broccoli are also known to help fight osteoporosis.
- Manage perimenopause symptoms with the consumption of soya, flaxseed, lentils and chickpeas, as phytoestrogen-rich nutrients act in a similar way to oestrogen, and can help relieve some symptoms.
- Omega 3 is good for lowering the risk of cancer, protecting against osteoporosis, and keeps you in a good mood. Include fish oil, flaxseed and walnuts in your diet.
- Biotin, also known as vitamin H, helps the body convert food into energy and helps keep your skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy. Biotin can be found in nuts, egg yolk, organ meats, soybean, cereals, cauliflower, bananas, mushrooms.
- Water, the most essential source of life! Often neglected, water is highly important. If you wait until you feel thirsty, your body is already highly dehydrated. So remember to hydrate, hydrate and hydrate especially when exercising!
Running is a great way to reduce menopause symptoms because it increases your fitness level and helps prepare your body for the changes you are about to face during the menopause period. When you adapt to a lifestyle that adopts exercise and a healthy diet, your metabolism will naturally increase. I urge you to stay active and effect your body towards ageing gracefully so you can achieve joy in every step of the way!
This article has been compiled from various sources including:
If you need further information about what diet to adopt, this link might help you: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/eat-beat-menopause
Article compiled by Nikki Yeo, FMS–certified practitioner and ACE-certified Fitness Trainer.