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  • Writer's pictureNicky Lloyd Greame

Menopause & Stress

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It doesn't just hit you one day and then go away though. You've probably heard the term Perimenopause too - there is a lot of talk about it at the moment thanks to people like Davina McCall shining a much-needed light on this important topic that affects 50% of the population. All together the perimenopause and menopause can last in excess of 10 years... that's a long time right?! During this time, the body experiences a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, leading to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. But did you also know that one of the most common symptoms of menopause is stress? Something I can personally attest to - as a perimenopausal woman.

Stress can manifest in many ways during menopause & perimenopause. Some women may experience anxiety, irritability, and mood swings, while others may feel overwhelmed and have difficulty sleeping. Stress can also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, brain fog and hot flushes. These symptoms can be especially challenging for women who are already dealing with the physical and emotional changes of menopause.

There are several reasons why stress and menopause are so closely linked. One of the main reasons is the hormonal changes that occur during menopause. As estrogen and progesterone levels decline, the body's stress response system becomes more sensitive, leading to an increased risk of stress-related symptoms. Additionally, women of perimenopause and menopause age are often experiencing significant life changes, such as children leaving home, retirement, and the loss of loved ones, all of which can contribute to stress.

To cope with stress during menopause, firstly it is important to be aware that this is not your fault - sometimes we feel guilt and shame around not feeling like we can't cope in the way we used to - and we really shouldn't. Sometimes making small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Things such as regular activity, a healthy(ish) diet - I love my chocolate too much to give it up completely - and adequate sleep can help to reduce stress and improve overall health. Yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can also be effective in reducing stress and promoting a positive sense of well-being.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there are several other ways to manage stress during menopause. Hormonal replacement therapy can help to balance estrogen and progesterone levels for some women, which can reduce the severity of symptoms - obviously finding an understanding GP to help with this is essential. Talking to a therapist, counsellor, or coach can also be helpful in managing stress and other emotional symptoms.

It's also important to remember that you are not alone in this experience. All women go through menopause, and support from friends, family, and healthcare professionals can be incredibly valuable in navigating this time of change. Joining a support group or online community can also be a great way to connect with other women who are going through similar experiences. This topic has really not been talked about enough - certainly not in my lifetime - so I feel strongly that the more we talk about it now the better. For us women, for our families, partners, friends and colleagues. The more that is understood about it the better.

In conclusion, menopause can be a challenging time for many women, but with the right support and lifestyle changes, we can learn to help ourselves and our ability to navigate stress. Remember to take care of yourself FIRST - something I know many of us are notoriously bad at - and seek help if you need it.


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