I entered full menopause at 46, a little earlier than average due to a full hysterectomy. As my menopause was a surgical menopause it was a little different to natural menopause, if you think of natural menopause as being a run down a steep stony hill, at times tricky and not at all easy then surgical menopause is being thrown straight off a cliff without a cord parachute or anything soft to land on.
My main worry with menopause was that it would stop me exercising. Movement is such a huge part of who I am and honestly it’s how I stayed sane through some very difficult times such as my daughter’s cancer and rare disease diagnosis.
I had heard so many stories of people changing almost entirely post menopause that honestly I was a little terrified.
The hysterectomy was itself very straight forward and I actually went for a very short walk/shuffle the day after. I did this every day for the first month after, by 4 weeks I started to walk/run.
At two weeks I was able to start HRT, for me it felt like the best option. I was under 50 and wanted to protect my bones and heart. I also wanted a quality of life.
So what issues did I face post menopause?
Weight does seem to settle more around my middle and my face than it use to which I manage by moving in ways that I enjoy and eating well focusing on fruit veg and proteins. Of course with some fun things too.
Sleep at times was a problem, sometimes getting to sleep has been tricky other times I’ll wake at a silly time and not be able to get back to sleep. Exercise helps so much with sleep, I honestly cannot express how much it helps. As does bright light early in the morning.
Pelvic floor, now I don’t know if it was due to the surgery or if it was due to surgical menopause but after about 3 months I found myself waking 3 to 4 times a night to pee. I did a lot of work both strengthening and creating flexibility in my pelvic floor. Now I wake at most once a night. We do a lot of pelvic floor work in Pilates, if you are having issues there are also some really good pelvic floor PTs that can help. I didn’t see one but if I hadn’t managed to get things in check myself I would have.
HRT, it took me a long time to find the right type and levels for me. Now I’m using estrogen patches and a little testosterone. If HRT is something you want to try and it doesn’t work after a few months or as well as you think it should don’t be afraid to try another type.
Anxiety, I have never had anxiety in my entire life until menopause and then BOOM out of nowhere, even with HRT. Both movement generally and the mindful movement that we find in yoga and Pilates helped with this. Just sitting breathing slowly and consciously can reduce heart rate and drop both cortisol and adrenaline levels.
Blood pressure, I have always had super low blood pressure. Passing out kind of low, after surgical menopause it went up. Not dangerously high but higher than I wanted. It’s not uncommon for this to happen in surgical menopause, no one really knows why. I brought it back into control through diet and exercise. It’s still something I need to be aware of and another reason to keep moving.
Caffeine, I can’t take more than a couple of cups of coffee a day and any after midday and I can’t sleep.
Other than that menopause for me so far has been a thoroughly positive experience, no more periods and no more mood swings thank God!!! But without exercise I’m not sure how it would have been at all.
If you would like a bit of help with getting moving while transitioning into the best years of your life get in touch