4 Most Common Post Menopause Symptoms and What You Can Do to Control Them
Life post menopause should not be a time of suffering. Rather, it should be a time of wisdom, freedom and reflection for self-growth. If you find yourself ill at ease with your menopause journey, addressing food and lifestyle changes, alongside any other intervention you choose with the help of your doctor, can be of major benefit. Here, I will focus mostly on post menopause.
Some women paint a very bleak picture of their menopause woes including depression, low energy and being short-tempered while other women have very few symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
During peri-menopause symptoms are very different to post menopause. This article is going to focus on the post menopause time frame.
Typical Post Menopausal Symptoms
- Risk of osteoporosis and fractures increase due to bones becoming brittle
- Thinning and drying of the mucous membranes of the vagina and urethra, leading to painful intercourse or urinary incontinence
- Skin becomes thin, dull and lifeless
- Loss of muscle tone
Risk of Osteoporosis and Fractures Increase Due to Bones Becoming Brittle
Bone loss accelerates substantially in the late perimenopause and continues at a similar pace in the first postmenopausal years.
Oestrogen and progesterone is needed in maintaining bone mass and it is these hormones that decrease in production as menopause progresses. With the drop in oestrogen and progesterone, more bone is broken down while less bone building occurs ultimately causing bone loss.
Many people know of the importance of calcium for strong bones, but little credence is given to Vitamin K and Vitamin D. When estrogen levels decline, Vitamin K function in bones also declines, including its role in the proper formation of bone protein, which provides the framework for our bones. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin K. Food sources include aged cheeses and fermented foods, dark leafy vegetables such as kale, collards or spinach.
Vitamin D, is also required to absorb calcium and limit bone breakdown. Sun exposure boosts Vitamin D production in the skin so make sure to have access to the suns rays for at least 10-15 minutes a day in the summer.
Resistance training and weight-bearing exercises are critical for halting the incidence and progression of osteoporosis. When you perform weight-bearing exercises, your bone adapts to the impact of weight and pull of muscle by building more cells and strengthening the bones. Some activities recommended to build strong bones include brisk walking, jogging, gardening, yoga and Pilates. Weight bearing exercises also improves muscle tone and prevent falls.
With loss of oestrogen comes vaginal dryness, thinning of the vaginal walls and atrophy (narrowing of the vagina). In your younger years, oestrogen maintained a moist and healthy vaginal tissue.
Regular sexual activity stimulates the vaginal lining to produce natural lubricants, helping to delay dryness and atrophy in the menopause. Masturbating can bring about the same benefits also. You can read more about vaginal dryness here.
Thinning of the Skin
As we age and the levels of oestrogen decreases, this causes a reduction in the skin’s collagen content. Collagen is a structural protein that gives skin its youthful plumpness and resiliency. With decreased collagen, the skin is less able to maintain adequate hydration, thus causing the skin to become drier and thinner.
The oil glands in the skin produce less oil thus leaving the skin drier and more sensitive.
When we were younger, skin cells would die off and be replenished with new ones on a quick rotation cycle. As we age this cycle does not move as fast as it once did. Exfoliation can help in assisting in keeping the skin soft and supple, particularly the face. Simply exfoliate the face once a week at the end of the day and allow the face to replenish with a hydrating face cream.
Moisturizing also should come from within. It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (8oz/250mls) as well as increasing oils in your diet from healthy fats. These foods include avocado, oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, olives and coconut oil.
Loss of Muscle Tone
The hormone androgen assists in the creation of lean muscle mass from the calories you take in. Muscle cells actively burn more calories than fat cells thus increasing metabolism.
In menopause, androgen levels drop, resulting in less muscle mass. The result being decreased metabolism, less calories burned and increased weight gain.
Adding to the fray, your weight gain is also exacerbated by inactivity. As we age we tend to become more sedentary.
Women tend to lose about 1% of their lean body mass per year if they’re inactive. Cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, strengthens the heart and lungs, and strengthens large muscle groups, while strength training helps build lean body mass in the arms, legs, and upper and lower back.
Increase you activity and become a participator instead of a spectator. Get out and go for a walk for your lunch break, join a local walking group or running group, or take up gentle yoga or Pilates.
Looking for more information? Here is an interview that I recently did with Margaret with more tips for dealing with post menopause symptoms.
What are your main menopausal symptoms that you would like to have discussed? Please join in the discussion below and share your tips to help you “survive the menopause”.