The hidden difficulties many women encounter during the menopause are often left unspoken.
Anxiety, night sweats, insomnia and joint pains are some of the more serious implications of a phenomenon that affects half of the population – yet many women are reluctant to ask for support.
Still largely a ‘taboo’ subject, only around one in 10 UK women seek medical advice during the menopause, with treatments like hormone therapy and drugs often considered a last resort.
In Leeds, one health clinic is stepping out to give self-help support in a bid to improve the quality of life of women facing an under-the-radar epidemic.
Dozens of women have sought advice from the free sessions – the latest last Saturday – at Physiofit, in Horsforth, after it recognised the need for easy access information.
The organisation, which employs two women’s health specialists, gives visitors tips of suitable exercises and strategies to alleviate the symptoms of ‘the change’.
Jenny Heron, senior physiotherapist and director of Physiofit, Horsforth, said: “Women might not feel they are suffering enough for a one-to-one physio session.
“Unless they have specific problems they don’t feel they would need to invest the money for an individual session but we get a lot of women who find they get a lot of information out of it.”
The advice centres on how to try and deal with potential symptoms like muscle and joint pains, mood changes, osteoporosis and issues like stress incontinence and prolapse linked to pelvic floor weakening.
Simple tips include performing regular basic exercises to help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles weakened by the menopause, and keeping fit in a bid to promote the release of mood-enhancing chemicals around the body.
Jenny also explained that the menopause, which on average starts around the age of 52, rapidly speeds up the natural thinning of the body’s bones leading to osteoporosis – something that can be counteracted through weight-bearing exercise. Stressing the benefits of pilates, walking and cross training, she said: “Many women don’t realise things like swimming are not great for tackling bone density.”
Meanwhile certain exercises like horse riding and skiing, which have an increased risk of falling, should be avoided.
Jenny added: “These aren’t life-threatening issues nor are they going to worsen, a lot will settle down with time so are not highest on a GP’s list of priorities, but this improves quality of life – some women can take 10 years to go through the menopause. People don’t know what support’s out there.”
Physiofit’s Leeds sessions
Every woman will go through the menopause but each experience is different.
Although it doesn’t happen at a set age, the average age is 52, and it can result in a variety of difference symptoms.
It is estimated around two-thirds of women experience the most common symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats.
Physiofit, in Horsforth, is offering free information sessions for women affected as well as one-to-one sessions.
Visit physiofitleeds.co.uk or call 0113 2581020 for further information.