Why bother learning about menopause in your 20s, 30s and 40s?
Life is busy. We get it. But there are some pretty compelling reasons to start thinking about menopause earlier in life.
First - Menopause happens to all of us women! Realistically, your mum, aunts, colleagues, and friends may currently be going through it. You may notice women around you finding life a bit tougher than normal. Knowing a bit about menopause can help you lend a sympathetic ear and support those around you.
Second - your boss might be going through menopause. And if she's suffering... chances are you might be suffering a bit more too. With more women working into their 50s and 60s (amen!) this means there are more menopausal women at work. This is fantastic for employers and employees everywhere, but managing a career and menopause together can be tough. Common menopausal symptoms, such as anxiety and forget-fullness can make work harder than usual. If your manager is suffering then it's going to impact YOU. Taking a moment to learn more about menopause might help you think of ways to make working life easier for both of you. Better still - you may even be brave enough to talk to them about menopause.
Finally, the better prepared you are (mentally and physically) the better you'll cope with your own menopause. When it comes around you won't be taken by surprise; and you may recognise symptoms and seek help more quickly.
Physically preparing for menopause
There are a few good habits you can get into earlier in life that could help make menopause manageable. As it takes a while for good habits to form - it's best to start early. Some lifestyle changes to consider might be:
- Eating well - Getting into healthy eating habits now means you won't have to make such big adjustments later. Good nutrition is always important for keeping healthy and preventing chronic illness. Have a read of our article to get more tips on staying healthy.
- Doing some strength training - Building up muscle and bone strength via strength training is particularly important when preparing for your menopause. Estrogen helps make bones stronger. When it drops during your menopause, you are automatically at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Starting menopause with strong muscles and bones, and continuing to prioritise this, through strength training, will help decrease your risk.
- Getting enough sleep - is an important part of health and wellbeing. It helps the body and mind rest and recover. Learning what you need for good sleep will stand you in better stead for menopause. Also, by understanding your own sleep routine you may be able to notice menopausal changes more quickly. Quick tip - keep your bedroom cool and dark.
- Learn how to manage stress - Stress is not good for us. The swinging hormones that come with menopause can trigger uncharacteristic stress and anxiety. These emotions can appear quite out of the blue. Whilst you are young, learn about how to manage your own stress levels. Whether it's exercise, yoga or reading - get to know what works for you. This will do wonders later on.
Mentally preparing for menopause
Many women will experience mental health symptoms with their menopause. Don't be ashamed to seek out the help you need in order for you to feel better. Some of the mental symptoms women experience around menopause (depression, anxiety, panic etc) can be very difficult to link too hormonal changes. The better you understand menopause before your own hormones change, the earlier you might be able to identify mood changes within yourself. A few ways we suggest for you to prepare:
- Asking your mum about menopause - It's the easiest way to learn what might be in store for you. She will be honest and speak from her own experience. It might also provide a nice opportunity for sharing and intimacy with your mum.
- Learning to talk about how your feeling - Changes in how we're feeling can be hard to talk about. If you can learn to open up to those around you about how you think and feel, it won't be as hard to share during menopause. It's also a great way to understand what others are thinking and feeling - as you set an example by being open.
- Understanding some options for coping with menopause - Knowing about the options available to you on this journey will it far less scary. Information is power.
- Investigating mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - There's increasing evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help with menopausal symptoms. If you are interested in learning more about this earlier in life - it might make using these techniques easier later on. and are also amazing ways to support mental health throughout life.
- Keep up your social life - Having people around to support you in menopause will help. We often think about physical and mental health, but neglect our social health. Keep in touch with your female friends (or men, of course) and ensure you feel supported and connected.
- Think about new hobbies you may want try - You may not have time to take up new hobbies now - but there's no harm in keeping a list of things you might like to try. Many menopausal women say that new hobbies, or learning new things, helps to keep the mind active. And it's also fun! So think about what you might enjoy in future.
For Alva - we'd like to see menopause become a core part of women's health education. From the classroom to the boardroom - there's a lot to learn. The impact of preparing yourself for change can be huge.