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Menopause is Inevitable

by | Aug 23, 2021 | Articles, Pilates for Menopause

Menopause is inevitable for a woman, it is not a disease: something that needs to be cured, like an infection, or injury, nor is it an Illness, although it can sometimes feel that way! But what is Menopause?

Menopause marks the end of the reproductive years and is a natural part of ageing. It usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age when a year passes without having had a menstrual period. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51. 

The end of the reproductive cycle is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones. It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month. There is also a decrease in progesterone levels and an increase in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH).

Oestrogen levels

Menopause arrives after a period of gradually declining levels of female sex hormones called Perimenopause or “pre-menopause”. You can expect this “pre” menopausal stage to last anything from a few months up to 10 years. This period of fluctuating hormonal levels is when symptoms are most likely to be experienced.

Premature Menopause

Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there is no clear cause. Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy). Some breast cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiotherapy) will catapult you into menopause or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease. Early onset presents it’s own unique challenges, and long term health consequences such as osteoporosis are more likely.

My Menopause 

I didn’t set out to be a Menopause expert, It was borne out of necessity. I experienced an insidious onset of menopause symptoms from the age of around 45 which included hot flushes, heavy periods, palpitations, digestive disturbances, mood disturbances, breast soreness, severe sleep disruption and overwhelming fatigue. Over the next 5 years I found myself spiralling downwards and feeling increasingly unsupported by the healthcare system and so I set about learning all I could to support my shifting physiology and psychology. 

Could it be the Menopause?

Most women will experience some symptoms around the menopause but the age of onset, duration and severity varies greatly from woman to woman. This results in confusion and uncertainty. Some women will proudly announce that they ‘got away with it’ suffering only mild symptoms, yet others suffer with heroic levels of determination. For some women a medley of Menopause symptoms leads them to wonder whether there is something seriously wrong with them!  Unfortunately A trip to the Doctor doesn’t always lend clarity to the situation.  

But surely it’s a natural process?

I hesitate to say that this phrase was uttered to me by a well meaning male of the species. However, Mother Nature pulled out all the stops in my case and I can assure you it felt anything but natural! With an accepted list of 34 Menopause symptoms it’s about as natural as being hit by a bus.

The 34 Symptoms of Menopause:

  • Night sweats, hot flushes, irregular heartbeat;
  • Disrupted sleep, fatigue;
  • Anxiety, depression, panic disorder;
  • Digestive problems, bloating, weight gain;
  • Muscle tension, joint pains, electric shocks, tingling;
  • Osteoporosis;
  • Itchy skin, hair loss, brittle nails, allergies, body odour;
  • Memory lapses, poor concentration, irritability;
  • Headaches, dizzy spells;
  • Stress incontinence, frequency, urgency, frequent UTI’s, vaginal dryness, dyspareunia, decreased libido, irregular periods, breast soreness; and
  • Burning mouth, gum problems.

Although these physical symptoms can reduce after the onset of Menopause, this is not always the case. Regardless all Women will go on to live the rest of their lives without oestrogen. With Life expectancy (2017-19) in the UK 83.1 years for females; this is now a whopping 32 years living with oestrogen deficiency! So what are the long term health consequences of Menopause?

Long term health consequences of Menopause 

The effects of oestrogen are far reaching as the 34 symptoms of menopause suggest and the many structures and systems which can be affected include our bones, muscles, brain, cardiovascular system and the pelvic organs. As you are probably realising by now this is a lifelong deficiency with far reaching health ramifications. Listen to me talk all about this and more in conversation on the Menopause Cafe Podcast.

Menopause is inevitable but decline is NOT!

Not planning on going into a decline? Me neither! As my granny would say forewarned is forearmed! Now you know that there are far reaching effects of declining oestrogen levels, I hope that you are propelled into taking action to prevent and mitigate these health challenges. Where do we begin? 

There is evidence and a clear consensus that lifestyle management strategies make a huge contribution to our ability to improve our symptoms; both in the long and short term. Where to begin? With movement of course!

Movement for Menopause

Plank

As a Chartered Physiotherapist, Pilates and Yoga teacher movement is my modus operandi. As it happens of all the lifestyle management strategies available there is a huge body of evidence supporting movement as the intervention with the most ‘bang for your bucks’. 

Movement has the potential to positively influence menopause symptoms, bone, muscle, tendon, cartilage, nerves, the brain, heart, and even the bits below the waist! I have incorporated the current guidance and research as well as the lessons I have learned into the movement programmes I now teach for the benefit of all women. 

Join me to Move More, Feel Better, Live Better!

Author: Phillipa Butler Chartered Physiotherapist

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Pilates for Menopause for Massage Therapists and Manual Therapists  - NAT Diploma Course with Precizion 10 CEUs

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Interested to learn Pilates or Yoga?

Join Precizion for regular online Pilates and Yoga classes.  All led by Phillipa Butler, a Chartered Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates and Women’s Health Expert. One-on-one consultations also available.

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