Menopause is the permanent ending of the menstruation. Natural menopause is caused by hormonal changes and it occurs when a women has not had her period for 12 consecutive months. This signals the end of the fertility stage of a women’s life.
Premenopause and perimenopause refer to the transition years which normally last from 2 – 7 years before menopause. This is when a women’s hormones begin to fluctuate and start the menopausal symptons.
Natural menopause is caused by shifts in a womens hormone balance, particularly in ovarian hormones like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Oestrogen helps regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Oestrogen levels fall between 40 and 60 percent during menopause as the ovaries cease to produce it.
Progesterone’s role is to change the character of the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy. It has many other functions including protecting a womens body from many types of cancer, normalising blood sugar levels helping metabolise body fat. In menopause progesterone levels can fall to as low as zero.
Testosterone is commonly referred to as a male hormone. It helps build muscle and bone and it affects a womens libido, mood and energy. By the time a women reaches 40 her testosterone level will drop to half of what it was when she was in her 20’s.
With this change of hormones in women, this will cause all women to experience weight gain during menopause if they don’t make some changes in lifestyle habits. Some simple guidelines which women can follow are:
– Flaxseed oil and other omega 3 fats
– Bioflavanoids ( cherries, grape skins, blueberries, cranberries, whole grains)
– Green tea
– Vitamins and minerals
– MSG foods
– Refined processed and high glycemic foods
– Chocolate alcohol
Not only avoiding foods is recommended but also some general rules with your diet can help with the regulation of the symptoms of menopause:
– Eat three to five small meals per day
– Focus on the portion size
– Eat protein at each meal
– Eat a variety of organic fruits and vegetables
– Eat healthy fats everyday
Exercise during menopause can allow women to control their body and emotions but there are many other benefits you can get from exercise. It is important to consider your energy levels on a day to day basis and if you are unsure please consult your GP or a trainer at your gym.
Training should include a balance of cardiovascular exercise, strength exercises, stretching and relaxation. The benefits from regular exercise can be:
– Protect bone mass and reverse bone loss
– Enhanced cardiovascular function
– Strive for healthy body composition
– Reduce symptoms
– Delay age related losses in functions
– Help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
– Sweep excess cortisol
– Reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
– Reduce depression
The list of benefits of exercise goes on but from an overall point exercise is important in every time of life but especially pre during and post menopause. So with regular exercise and healthy eating this can help most menopausal women get control over their symptoms and continue to have the energy to enjoy life.
source: Network magazine, reference “training menopausal clients by Lyn Miller”