1. What is the menopause?
In simple terms, menopause is when the period stops and there is no more ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary). This leads to a decrease in oestrogen (one of the main female sex hormones).
Oestrogen affects every part of the body, so when there is a change in oestrogen levels the entire body is affected!
2. When does it start?
- Menopause starts on average at age 51, ( or 12 months after your last period)
- Peri-menopause happens 10-15 years prior to menopause, you can start seeing changes age 35
- Post-menopause happens for 20-30 years after the menopause start.
3. What are the classic symptoms of the menopause: (brace yourself!)
- Hot flushes and night sweats (most common)
- Fatigue and poor sleep
- Muscle tension
- Itchy skin
- Electric shocks
- Burning in the mouth
- Memory lapses/ Difficulty concentrating
- Joint pain
- Digestive problems
- Mood swings and irritability
- Gum problems
- Breast soreness
- Heart palpitations
- Brittle nails
- Vaginal dryness
- Stress incontinence
- Change in libido
- Irregular periods
Some women may have all symptoms, some women will have some symptoms, and some women will have none!
In the peri-menopause you can get a big influx of oestrogen then very little again, which causes irregular periods. You can think you are menopausal but then get a period after 6 months.
4. How does the menopause effect muscle or tendon injuries?
- Oestrogen has a big role in lowering inflammation, therefore if women have higher inflammation they are more likely to have tendonitis (e.g hip pain, knee pain or achilles/ heel pain)
5. How will this affect healing after an injury?
- Women during the menopause will take longer to heal due to less oestrogen in the body
- In a small percentage of women with an injury during the menopause, the injured tendon won’t heal as quickly so we may need to plan a longer time in your recovery for tendon healing and rest before starting exercises
- The muscle changes so that you can’t produce as much force as previously, which can also slow down your recovery
6. What can be done?
- Strength training will always improve strength no matter what age you are so the only change needed will be recovery time
- If you aren’t responding as expected and you have menopausal symptoms, you can talk to your GP regarding HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and methods of helping hormonal support to improve healing and inflammation management.
7. How do you know if poor healing is related to the menopause?
- How are your periods? Are they regular?
- Are your symptoms worse around your period? If so, there could be a link
- Menopause may not be the primary cause, but it may be affecting your healing time, response to treatment and overall recovery
8. What can women do to prevent some of these symptoms?
- Have a good diet and regular exercise to reduce the complications of peri/ menopause
- If constipated your body will harbour hormones and they will get reabsorbed back into the system, so diet and exercise will help reduce this
- 1 in 2 women will get osteoporosis during the menopause
- They need strength training and impact exercises to reduce osteoporosis
- Exercise will help to regulate the stress hormone cortisol and reduce weight gain.
The take home message is that the menopausal end point will be the same, but the journey can be less intense and have less complications by making some small changes.
If you would like to find out if your injury and recovery time could be related to the menopause give one of our Chartered Physiotherapists a call on:
Phone 0404 49781
Or book online at https://eastcoastphysio.ie/booking/
Thanks for reading.
Written by Mary-Alice Murphy MISCP