As a female runner, you can identify with those moments when a half marathon or big race is coming up and you are ‘gifted’ with getting your period the night before!! Even with the latest and greatest pads, tampons, etc. it’s a constant worry you deal with mile after mile!
Gone are those innocent days when , in your youth, you excitedly awaited your first period, because it meant you were entering ‘womanhood.” You were naive to the symptoms that came with the ‘gift.’ Then, you became an active woman who enjoyed running, cycling and swimming and you were faced with a new set of concerns! Getting past the bloating and cramps and making it through a training run or race. Unfortunately, even with modern supplements and medications, having your menstrual cycle during a race takes away from the carefree joy of the sport!
Many of you have noticed a decline or ending of your period simply because you are an active woman! It is a fact that many women in sports get very short to no periods at all. So how do you know if this is due to activity or menopause?
Many doctors will tell you that menopause starts when a woman is in her 50′s, but this is not always true. I know many woman, including myself, who have entered menopause in their 30′s and 40′s. The only sure way of knowing is to get a blood test of you TSH and FSH levels.
You may be in peri-menopause which is a stage the medical community labels the period of time in which a woman starts to notice a change in her menstrual cycle. Perhaps they skip a month here and there, have flow changes, perhaps experience moodiness and vaginal dryness. This is the onset of menopause as hormone levels, FSH and TSH to be exact, are declining. The theory is that once you miss an entire year of periods you are officially out of Peri and into menopause. Take the quiz to see if you have the symptoms.
You may anticipate menopause with the idea that FINALLY your period stops! Gone are the bloating and cramping symptoms But quite honestly, menopause comes with its own set of symptoms, some very similar to your menstrual cycle ones.
So are you doomed? Is there no reprieve?
You are NOT doomed and It doesn’t have to be a whirlwind of hot flashed, mood swings, night sweats and weight gain! Just because some books you’ve read say it is so. Perhaps your girlfriend’s tales of misery influence you, or the plethora of articles about ‘expected menopausal symptoms.’
Let’s take a hard look at the Myths and the Reality of menopause.
Every woman has to go through the ‘changes. That’s it!! There are no other realities that are prerequisites for menopause. Age can’t even be defined. So let’s discuss the myths!
It’s inevitable that every women will experience:
mood swings and emotional upheaval
decrease in energy
Let’s start with age!
There is a predictable range of when women are more likely to start menopause, but this is a wide range, simply because there are so many variables!!
Some of the variables have to do with:
- Age of your first period
- Genetic predisposition
- Body composition
- Activity level
I started running at the age of 27, late in life. Before running, I had heavy, painful periods. After running less than a decade, my periods came regularly, but only lasted 2 hours. By age 42, I stopped getting them. I was tested and shown to be in menopause. Not Peri-menopause…I jumped right into the big menopause!
Don’t fall victim to the plethora of symptoms’ associated with menopause. In the same way that some women have easy childbirth while others are horrendous, so is menopause. It is my strong belief if the medical community didn’t label this phase Peri-menopause, many women wouldn’t even recognize they were in it.
Some useful tools to know when defending against menopause.
- Nutritional Guidance (not diets)
- Body Shaping through movement (not boring exercise)
- Alleviating moodiness and irritability with relaxation
- Recognizing yourself (the self you’ve been ignoring)
- Balance of work, family, fun, romance, relationships, explorations and discovery of new things
- Finding an outlet to clearing your mind (from stress, depression and head fog)
- Cleaning house to make room for YOU (and I don’t mean laundry and dusting)
- Nurturing your relationships (a common side effect of menopause is relationship crisis mainly due to the rollercoaster effects the hormone shifts have on moods.)
- Establishing new interests and routines to replace bad habits (excessive drinking, smoking, high sugar and refined carbohydrates, environmental toxins, and chronic stress which depletes our adrenal glands.
Lastly, research; investigate and consult with others on what’s right for you. I don’t suggest woman take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but then I don’t disagree with those who do. There are many in the medical community who base their findings on limited research or general blind studies. Not every HRT is the same. There are as many variables in progesterone and estrogen levels as there are medications and some are no more threatening then taking birth control. In fact, I consider some prescribed medications often used everyday for pain, anxiety and other symptoms to be far more dangerous than HRT. Bottom line ~ YOU decide.
Menopause doesn’t have to be a dreaded side-effect of female aging., Nutrition can help. Get started with Let’s Get FIT Nutrition.