The menopausal transition is a normal natural part of life, it’s something that all women will experience, given that they live long enough. Even though it's a normal life process, it can take many women by surprise and can significantly throw them off balance.
Knowing this I tell all my younger friends (and you too of course) that there are some things we can do to prepare for this time of life and hopefully make it an easier transition. The earlier you start the better, but you can still add some of these tips after menopause and still see the benefits.
Your state of general health leading up to the beginning of peri-menopause is important. If I had my time again I would have started my transition off with more muscle mass.
It’s surprising how quickly your muscle quality and quantity can change as you transition into menopause. Sarcopenia is the official name. Although muscle loss generally starts slowly around the age of 30. With the reduction of estrogen with menopause, this process is sped up.
Having more muscle mass to start with is an advantage, but it's never too late to start a new weight-bearing exercise program. Actually, this is essential, as is eating adequate protein!
Muscles are so important for health. You can’t do anything without them. Muscles are required for smiling, chewing, breathing, sitting up, standing up, making your heart beat, and more.
As we lose muscle mass we become frailer, more prone to falls, we become weak and we age faster.
You may not know that your muscles play a crucial role in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Along with insulin, the muscles can uptake glucose from the blood, lowering your overall blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, our risk of blood sugar irregularities, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and diabetes increases over our transition. Unfortunately, about 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during his time. An easy way to reduce this risk is by working on strengthening our muscle mass.
Stronger muscles help to keep the strength in our bones. The stronger the strength of your muscular contractions, the larger the impact it has on your bone health as the regular tugging on the bones helps stimulate osteoblast (your bone-building cells) into action. With osteoporosis being a potential concern for all women, it highlights the need for having good muscle mass throughout life as a way to mitigate your risk.
The larger mass muscle you have the fitter metabolic rate you have. If you are worried about weight gain or the appearance of the dreaded meno-belly then it might be worth considering if a weight-based exercise program could be a good addition for you?
I know I can’t go back in the past and restart my transition with stronger healthier muscles but every time I workout I’m making a deposit into my quality of life-saving fund. I’m building my future health rep by rep and so can you.
While we are talking about structural issues, it's worth considering your skeletal alignment? Did you realise you need good lower back alignment in order for your chemical messages to get from your brain to your reproductive system? A subluxation here can directly impact the health of your hormones.
This is why I often refer my patients to see a chiropractor. Full disclosure my sister is a chiropractor and I’ve been having chiropractic treatment my entire adult life, so yes I am biased. But I’m equally happy for you to have an Osteopath, Acupuncturist, Physiotherapist, Massage therapist, or one of ALL the above in your health care team. You need to physically take care of your body if you want it to last the distance. The best thing about this tip is you can start this at any stage of the transition.
My next tip is to have a full blood work-up. You want to assess your general health, as any uncontrolled or undiagnosed medical conditions are likely to flare during the transition.
Many conditions have similar symptoms to menopause so it's really good to optimise all your test results as soon as possible. Two common health complaints that often get confused with signs of the menopausal transition are blood sugar issues and thyroid issues but it’s quite easy to identify them with blood testing.
Blood sugar issues can trigger hot flushes, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, insomnia, irritable moods, headaches, and more.
The most common thyroid condition is hypothyroidism, roughly 1 in 6 women will be diagnosed with this by the time they reach post-menopause. The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, poor moods, constipation, and the list goes on.
Can you see that the menopausal transition produces the same symptoms as blood sugar issues and hypothyroidism? This is why it’s so important to test to discover what your underlying cause or causes of your symptoms are, this way you have a better chance of treating the correct underlying cause and seeing great, longer-term health benefits.
While you are testing, it's also worth checking your generalise systemic rate of inflammation. Short-term inflammation can be life-saving to help you recover from an accident or injury but long-term chronic inflammation even low levels of inflammation can, unfortunately, become very problematic as we transition and our estrogen levels start to decline. The surge in our inflammatory response occurs as estrogen is a natural anti-inflammatory and without it dampening down the inflammatory cascade, it can spike, producing very painful consequences.
Luckily you can start testing at any stage of the transition but imagine what a smoother ride it would be if you ruled out any underlying health concerns or started to better manage current concerns prior to entering the rollercoaster ride that we call menopause.
Don't forget I offer one on one consultations. If you would like a hand at any stage of the menopausal transition, I'm here to help you. Click here to see my schedule. (Please make sure you adjust my calendar to your time zone before you select a time)