DX Physio

Menopause – What Is It?

22 March, 2023
Menopause – What Is It?

Menopause is sometimes referred to as ‘the change of life’ as it marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life. At “menopause”, there are no longer eggs being produced by the ovaries and the production of oestrogen and progesterone ceases. The term “menopause” refers to the last or final menstrual period a woman experiences.

When a woman has had no periods for 12 consecutive months she is considered to be “postmenopausal”. Most women become menopausal naturally between the ages of 45 and 55 years, with the average age of onset at around 50 years. “Premature menopause” may occur before the age of 40 due to either natural ovarian function ceasing, following surgery to remove the ovaries, or as a result of cancer treatments. Menopause is considered “early” when it occurs between 40 and 45 years.

For women at the ‘midlife’/menopausal point, it can be difficult to separate the effects of ageing from the effects of menopause. Ageing is associated with weight gain in both women and men, while weight gain during and after menopause is associated both with lifestyle factors and the physiological changes of ageing, as well as with the hormonal changes of menopause.

A healthy diet and lifestyle, incorporating exercise and strength training, lowers risk for many health problems associated with ageing, gives you more energy, and improves quality of life. A healthy lifestyle may also reduce menopausal symptoms including hot flushes and sleep disturbance. Whilst these still may happen and are a physiological response of the hormonal changes that occur as one enters the menopausal period, you can also help to reduce your core temperature to prevent additional temperature rises or triggering the vasomotor symptoms of menopause like the hot flushes. Some of these are listed below:

  • adjusting clothing
    • dress in layers
    • wear sleeveless blouses or tops
    • wear clothing made of natural fibres that breathe
    • avoid jumpers and scarves
  • using a hand fan or electric fan as required
  • keeping cooler at night
    • lower the room temperature
    • put a cold pack under the pillow
    • turn the pillow over to the cool side when feeling warm
    • use dual control electric blankets
    • use a bed fan that blows air between the sheets
  • drinking cool liquids such as iced water.

If you are experiencing any symptoms with menopause such as reducing muscle mass, weight gain or aches and pains, book in with our Women’s Health Physiotherapist who can help assess you and also assist with exercise recommendations to help you through the changes. 

If you want to learn more about menopause stress, a great resource is the Australian Menopause Society.