Menopause is a significant and transformative phase in a woman’s life. It is a natural biological process during which ovulation stops and periods end. The experience of menopause can be different for each individual and often comes with a wave of physical and emotional changes.
When climbing and hill walking, an essential aspect that is often overlooked for women is the profound impact of menopause on their physical and mental well-being. Acknowledging and understanding menopause is paramount for female adventurers, as hormonal changes during this life stage can significantly influence energy levels, thermoregulation, and overall health.
Being attuned to these physiological shifts allows women to make informed choices about their gear, hydration, and pacing, optimizing their outdoor experience. By fostering awareness about menopause, the outdoor community can create a supportive environment that empowers women to continue pursuing their passion for climbing and hill walking with confidence and adaptability. In this guide, we will explore the different phases of menopause, common symptoms, and the power of regular movement and exercise to manage symptoms and support good health.
Menopause is not a singular event but a transition that occurs over several phases:
Perimenopause is the stage leading up to menopause. It typically begins in your 40s but can start earlier for some. During this phase, hormonal fluctuations can lead to irregular periods, shorter cycles, and a variety of symptoms. Perimenopause can last up to 10 years, making it the longest phase of the menopausal journey.
Menopause itself is the briefest phase and is diagnosed when a female has missed their period for 12 consecutive months.
Post menopause is the phase following menopause. This is the time when a person transitions into the next stage of their life without a menstrual cycle.
Menopause symptoms can vary widely. While some may go through menopause without experiencing any significant symptoms, others may find it extremely challenging. Some common symptoms include:
It may be helpful for both individuals and leaders to consider whether their symptoms may have an effect during their trip in the outdoors. Consider what symptoms you or others are likely to experience and how you might manage these throughout your day. Here are a few suggestions:
If you are struggling with symptoms talk to your GP. It may be worth discussing the activities you enjoy, such as outdoor recreation, and getting their advice on how to manage your symptoms in outdoor settings. There are medication options such as HRT which come in different forms.
Why move during menopause?
Symptom management: Regular movement and exercise can help manage many menopausal symptoms. From hot flushes to mood swings, staying active can make these experiences more manageable.
Long-term health: The advantages of staying active go far beyond symptom relief. Regular exercise and movement can protect females against chronic conditions that tend to affect them later in life. These include heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia and back pain.
Well-being: Physical activity has the remarkable ability to boost mood, improve sleep, and provide an overall sense of well-being. It's an excellent way to combat the fatigue and stress that can accompany menopause.