How to have a positive menopause and actually enjoy your ‘second spring’

Menopause is a fundamental life change, but it doesn’t need to be a negative one thanks to our expert tips.

The menopause is an important time in a woman’s life, and one that affects us all. Even if you’re not going through the menopause yourself, you’re likely to know a partner, sibling, friend, work colleague or someone who has gone through it, or is experiencing it now. 

Symptoms like night sweats, brain fog, depression…Is the menopause really that bad? Is this something that we should fear – or is there any way that we can have a positive menopause?

Group of female friends smilingCredit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Dr Rebecca Lewis, GP and menopause specialist for Newson Health, says that not everyone struggles with the menopause. 

“We know that three out of four women will have symptoms that will affect them in some way, but a quarter of those won’t really be affected too significantly. So, it’s a big spectrum, and it’s unique to each person.” 

If you’re reading that and thinking: “What about the rest of us?” – well, there are those who will have significant symptoms and yes, it can be a difficult time. But the good news is that with increasing awareness and understanding around menopause, it’s becoming easier to access the correct treatment and care needed.  

There are a range of treatment options available via your GP or (if you pay privately) a dedicated menopause clinic.  

“Menopause should be a great time,” Lewis states. “It’s a time to take stock of your future health, because we can still have a third or more of our lives to live after menopause, so we really want to make sure that it’s our best life.”  

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Track your menopause symptoms

In order to give your medical provider a detailed overall picture of your health and any symptoms you’re having, it’s a good idea to use one of the many tracking methods available. 

Noticing any irregularities in your cycle, such as days you’ve been spotting, or periods that have been heavier or lighter than usual, can help you better explain what you’re dealing with. Keeping track of physical and mental symptoms is also useful so you can be signposted towards the correct form of treatment, if needed. 

As awareness and understanding around menopause has increased, so too have the options for tracking symptoms. Of course, you can still use a good old-fashioned pen and paper to write down times and dates of things happening. You might like to buy a dedicated tracking journal: Amazon has a wide range available, and you simply fill it in either as and when the symptoms arise, or at the beginning or end of each day. 

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Alternatively, many smartwatches and phones have a built-in health app, where you can track your cycle. This can be particularly useful if you’ve noticed any irregularities. They allow you to note days when you have your period, so you can see if they’re varying in length. You can also track how heavy your flow was, or if you had spotting. 

Menopause apps are relatively new and offer the chance to track more than just your period. They also hold a wealth of information, articles, videos, podcasts, and more. 

Woman looking at health appCredit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

The difference between a dedicated menopause app and a period tracker is that a menopause app allows you to log menopause-related symptoms, including cognitive ones such as anxiety or brain fog. This can be particularly helpful when attending an appointment with a menopause specialist, since you have the power to say: “This is how I’m feeling, and this is how long I’ve been feeling it for.” 

Being able to recognise and understand your symptoms is the first step towards having a more positive menopause.  

Do your own research

Overwhelm is something we can all identify with, and perhaps never more so than during perimenopause. Trying to deal with everyday life is difficult enough, but if you add in symptoms and trying to work out the best options for you, it can all get a bit much.

Feel free to listen to advice from family and friends but remember that what worked for them may not work for you. Take the time to read and research menopause and treatments, so you can form your own opinions.

Petra Coveney, author of Menopause Yoga, says: “I don’t want to be sold false hope. I don’t want to be told myths and untruths. I want facts. I’m a big grown-up woman. Give me some evidence-based solutions. And then I’ll go do what I need to do to improve my health. But don’t give me any myths and nonsense and maybes.”

The market is awash with books claiming to help you through menopause, or make it work for you. In truth, if it’s written by a reputable source, any menopause book should offer helpful insight and advice.

I have a few personal favourites that I’d recommend, as listed below (all links are to Amazon):

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If you prefer to listen, audio versions are available for all of the titles above via Audible.

Two women talkingCredit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Open up to loved ones

Support is vital, whether that comes from your spouse, children, friends, or work colleagues. A major step towards being able to view menopause in a more positive light is getting rid of the stigma surrounding it. It’s not a taboo subject, and a frank menopause discussion can be beneficial.

Coveney points out that in traditional Chinese medicine, the menopause is actually referred to as ’second spring’. It’s a positive slant on this life event and can help us view things differently.

“It can seem like post-menopause is this dark, barren wasteland,” she says.  “I know that a lot of women who are going through their perimenopause are very resistant to going into menopause and beyond, because they are afraid, and they don’t know what lies on the other side.”

Coveney adds: “That resistance can lead to more shame or embarrassment, or not talking to their partner, or not talking to their employers because of the social stigma and all those cultural associations with so-called older women.

“And so, by reframing our menopause as preparing to step into your second spring, it gives a really positive, wonderful outlook of a new beginning.”

Leading menopause authority Dr Louise Newson also stresses the importance of keeping communication open between generations. A shared family history can help you know what to expect. 

“So many families hit a verbal roadblock when it comes to talking about so-called ‘women’s issues’ between the generations,” she says. “But that really is an opportunity missed: a frank chat with female family members can help to prepare the next generation for their own perimenopause and menopause.

“So if you are a mother or grandmother, you can play a really important role in helping your own children and grandchildren.” 

Listen to your body

“Lots of women think: ‘I just need to get through this, and my symptoms will settle,’” Lewis says. “But that’s not always the case. There’s many symptoms associated with menopause. The difference is how people adapt to them.” 

Menopause should not make your life narrower. If symptoms like anxiety, brain fog, aching joints or lack of sleep are stopping you from doing things, look into all options available to you. For some women, this will mean taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). For others, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help, or they could try complementary therapies 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of treatment options, and we can’t stress enough how important it is to research and consider all choices before deciding what’s right.  

Woman talking to doctorCredit: Shutterstock / Lordn

Coveney points out: “There are serious, long- term health risks that specifically affect women as a result of their decline in oestrogen especially, but also progesterone and testosterone. And so we do need to educate ourselves about how to improve and change our health and wellbeing.”

Along with – or separate to – medical treatments, that can include movement and nutrition options, which can help alleviate certain symptoms such as aching joints. “It can include herbal remedies,” Coveney says, “or various forms of exercise, including yoga.” 

“Make an informed decision is what we’re saying,” Dr Lewis stresses. She adds that you should always make sure you have an annual review, just to check that your treatment is still right for your needs.

Addressing the hormonal imbalances caused by menopause can lead to an increase in energy, reduce aching muscles, and enable you to think and focus more clearly on your lifestyle. 

Focus on wellbeing

After addressing any hormonal imbalances, many women find their energy increases post-menopause, and this can be all the inspiration you need. Your physical and mental health can become a priority and taking steps to keep fit and healthy in menopause will also have the added benefit of helping alleviate many symptoms.  

An important factor in maintaining health during the menopause is to follow a healthy diet. That doesn’t mean restricting yourself; it simply means focusing on eating well. Choose healthy meals that focus on protein, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, pulses and healthy fats such as nuts, avocado, and olive oil.  

Eating a balanced diet, and reducing intake of processed, sugary foods, can help combat type 2 diabetes and obesity, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other age-related health issues.  

Taking a vitamin D supplement, as well as getting plenty of calcium, will help bone density, as will any form of strength training such as a group fitness class that uses dumbbells. Cardio exercise is also important, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a high-level sprinter (unless you want to be, of course).  

Group of women doing yoga in parkCredit: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher

The mental wellbeing benefits of keeping active and eating well are enormous. Exercise releases endorphins and boosts serotonin levels, often known as the happy hormone.  

“Exercise can help as we’re going into our second spring,” Coveney says. “This is what you need for your heart, your bones, your muscles. And as a result of doing this, you could feel stronger, and even more emotionally empowered than maybe you ever have, which is brilliant.” 

Keeping active also encourages us to eat better, and eating better gives us the energy to stay active – the two go hand in hand. You might lose weight or notice that your clothes fit better. That gives an added confidence boost, and looking and feeling beautiful comes from the confidence you have in yourself. 

For more information and exercise ideas, take a look at our exercise in menopause guide, or learn more about yoga for menopause.

Embrace your ‘second spring’

The symptoms you may experience during menopause are only a small fraction of what this time can bring.

It can be an incredibly exciting phase in our lives – not because we’re going through the menopause, necessarily, but because it often occurs at a time when our lives are opening up. Children are getting older and more independent or have left home altogether. We tend to be settled and confident in our careers and have a lifestyle we are comfortable with. 

With no risk of pregnancy, and no periods to deal with, sex during menopause and beyond can become a time when we find our libido increasing.

“You don’t have to worry about the menstrual bleed,” Coveney says. “You’re just calmer. I think that’s a definite benefit.” 

This is also the time for us to decide exactly what we will and won’t tolerate in our lives. Don’t be afraid to step away from situations that no longer serve you. “It’s like this veil of compliance is lifted,” Coveney says. “Women do become more opinionated, and we find our voice.”   

You can step back and focus on your own emotional needs and ensure these are being met. It’s a wonderful and liberating feeling to be strong enough to say: “This no longer works for me.’ Stop saying yes to things just to please others; remember, no is a complete sentence.  

Ultimately, it is possible to make menopause work for you, not against you – so embrace this new chapter and all it means for you as a woman. Understand your body, investigate treatment options, read the research out there. What you believe can change your experience; mindset really is everything. 

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Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her

Updated:

Becky Fuller is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain. Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

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