October is World Menopause Awareness Month and with over 13 million women in the UK being perimenopausal to postmenopausal and an estimated 1.1 billion women globally reaching postmenopause by 2025, there is a significant need to focus on and understand this important stage in women’s lives. Whilst educating girls and women about this transitional phase is vital, boys and men also need to be informed and included in the conversation, now more than ever.
Thanks to experts such as Dr. Annice Mukherjee, Dr. Louise Newson and Dr. Naomi Potter together with celebrities such as Davina McCall and Gwyneth Paltrow, women’s health and specifically, menopause, has recently received media attention and gained an awareness in the public eye not seen before. In fact, if you ask many women currently going through the menopause about their mother’s or grandmother’s experience, phrases like “the change” or “having a funny turn” are briefly mentioned in hushed voices followed quickly by awkward silences. Thankfully, this once taboo subject is slowly moving out of the shadows and being talked about on our screens, at home and in our communities.
But, there is still a way to go. Places of education, work and recreation need to address menopause through learning and information. To normalise what will happen to 51% of the population, to protect and support the fastest growing demographic in the workforce and to celebrate the wisdom and experience of our ageing population.
You may be asking, “What does it mean to be perimenopausal, menopausal or postmenopausal?” Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time when your body makes the natural transition to menopause and oestrogen levels fluctuate. Women start perimenopause at different ages and for different reasons, but on average, signs and symptoms appear from mid 40’s onwards.
Once a woman has gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, she has officially reached menopause. It is important to state that menopause is a normal phase in life, with the average age of women reaching menopause at 51, but it may occur earlier in some women than in others. A woman is considered postmenopausal after these 12 consecutive months.
There are many ways to prepare for this life stage, manage the transition and embrace the years ahead with fullness of life and vitality. Knowledge is power and through learning more and gaining understanding of what is happening at this time, you will feel more in control and can make better decisions. Seek help, support and advice from professionals, family and friends. There is great strength in reaching out and talking about your experiences with others.
Eating a well-balanced diet of whole foods, along with staying hydrated, will support many hormonal changes in the body. As too will movement, which is vital as we age. Movement and exercise are powerful tools in alleviating some of the symptoms and physiological aspects of hormonal change. Looking after your body will reap benefits for your mood, mind and libido too.
Find time to look after yourself as well as your loved ones. Aim to take 5 minutes each day to focus on your breathing. Remember that deep breaths into your belly are best, with a slower exhale. This will help to calm your nervous system and help you to relax. Keep a wellbeing pack of essentials to hand. This could be a scented spray or hand cream, cooling wipes, a fan, water and healthy snacks.
Boost your Vitamin D levels by getting outside as often as possible. Nature is a powerful healer and can provide huge benefits to our health and wellbeing. Aim to use active rest to help you unwind at the end of the day or week. This may be a walk, cleaning your home or pottering in the garden. It’s important to start with small changes and realistic goals to improve your wellbeing habits. Change one thing at a time, such as drinking more water or moving your body more. Consistency is key – repeating one thing each day will create a habit that will last longer than if you try to change everything at once.
Always seek the advice of a professional such as a GP, before making any health related changes. Ask for help and support, talk to friends and family and include them in the conversation. Menopause is inevitable, but we can choose how we live with this phase of life. Keep learning, reaching out and making wellness and health a priority.
For 1:1 coaching, consultancy and workshops, get in touch with Sarah: www.sarahalexcarter.com