Menopause is often portrayed as a negative and stigmatized phase of life, but it doesn't have to be that way. If a woman is lucky enough to live long enough, she will experience menopause which can bring along many physical, mental and emotional changes.
Usually when women speak about being in menopause, they’re actually talking about perimenopause. If you’re not familiar with this word, it means “around menopause” and refers to the transitional period where your body is preparing to stop ovulating.
Perimenopause can start as early as your mid 30's-50's and last anywhere between 3-15 years. This is the time leading UP TO menopause. This is also when most women experience most changes associated with menopause.
Menopause itself, is the last day of the 12th month of no menses. Menopause is 1 day and post-menopause is all the years after.
Most "symptoms" begin to subside 2-5 years after menopause (as the shit-show of hormones begins to balance out) but some women's symptoms worsen during this time. Not linear.
Learning to understand your body changes and taking charge of your emotional wellbeing during the menopause transition is crucial to navigating this phase of life with grace and confidence. By educating yourself about the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause, you can better prepare for the changes that lie ahead.
We sat down with Sam Core Trainer to explore how women can redefine menopause and make the most of this new stage of their life. She shares tips and advice for navigating this transition and how to love your body through the changes.
Whether you're approaching menopause or already experiencing it, this is for you. So sit back, relax, and let's dive into the world of menopause together!
What motivated you to specialize in menopause tell us about your journey to this place in your career.
During the pandemic, I started to notice some changes in my own body, but because I no longer have a uterus (I had a hysterectomy 10 years ago), I didn’t have a cycle to follow. I decided to do my own research and with education and support from my health care providers; I found out I was in perimenopause.
Menopause is a very stigmatized topic with very little research and support; add fitness and the only messaging was work (even) “harder” than you already are.
Changing my focus to menopause opened up a whole new opportunity for me to give women a safe space to learn, share and get the support they need; all while taking the steps to feel good during the process.
What Happens to My Body in Menopause?
During your 40s, you may notice some changes as you approach menopause—the period known as perimenopause. For some, your periods may become less predictable (less frequent or heavier) and hormones begin to change.
During perimenopause; this is when most women will notice physical changes such as weight gain, muscle aches and joint pain. Breasts may feel tender and more lumpy; you'll start to notice changes in the size and shape of your breasts.
Your milk system starts to shut down, glandular tissue in your breasts shrinks. That causes them to become less dense and more fatty, which can lead to sagging. You may also notice that your breasts aren't as full as they used to be, and their size may change.
A recent study found that 1 in 5 women went up a bra size after menopause (typically due to weight gain). When your current bras don’t fit you anymore, find bras that offer a supportive lift to prevent any pulling of your skin.
Can you share some tips or strategies for managing the physical changes that occur during menopause, such as hot flashes, and sleep disturbances, and vaginal dryness?
Exercise can help with hot flashes, but you also want to be cautious not to overtrain. This means the “eat less, workout more” approach will not work and if it does, it’s for a very limited time.
As we go through menopause, we also can’t manage stress as well and blood sugar also becomes an issue so making sure to exercise with the right strategy (to build muscle) and not elevate cortisol levels (the stress hormone) is your best bet.
On the other hand, making a more concerted effort to manage stress levels but focusing on rest and recovery and down regulation of the central nervous system can also assist in sleeping better.
There is also a connection with alcohol and caffeine with increased vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) so scaling back and being mindful of how your body feels after a cup of jo, will also give you good information.
Vaginal dryness is a combination of loss of Estrogen, hyaluronic acid and collagen. Estrogen helps to keep our tissues moist, lubricated and "juicy". Hyaluronic acid helps to retain moisture and keep tissues plump and youthful. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body helping to build muscles, tendons and ligaments.
High Heels & Hot Flashes, April 2023 Sam is styling the Performance Lace™ Nikki Longline Bra in Fuchsia
What Women Should Know About Menopause
Menopause (although a natural process) is also stressful on the body and puts you at an increased risk of developing heart disease, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis.
Lifestyle makes a BIG impact on your experience and outcomes, so when you have the right plan, you will find that you don’t have to suffer and menopause can be the opportunity to take back control of your health, once and for all.
Breast Fluctuations & Menopause
Breast fluctuations are a common symptom of menopause and can include changes in breast size, shape, and density. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause, like the decline in estrogen levels cause these fluctuations.
For some women, breast fluctuations can lead to discomfort, pain, and even breast tissue changes. This can make finding a comfortable and supportive bra more challenging.
Surprisingly, we’ve found over the years of fitting and supporting thousands of women in menopause have very similar experiences to women postpartum in terms of symptoms and needs.
When you are experiencing things like pregnancy, nursing, menopause, weight fluctuation, or your period, a good bra fitting is key to helping you understand your breast changes and how the right foundational garments can support you.
This also gives you the reassurance that you are supporting your breast health and not contributing to consequences (like sagging, or restricting circulation) down the line.
What advice do you have for women who may feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to approach menopause?
Know that it’s not forever and there are more resources than you think. Looking at the North American Menopause Society website is a good start but also looking for people (like me) who have educated themselves about what is happening and how to approach it, will put your mind at ease.
Menopause can feel very isolating although every woman will go through it (if they live long enough) but when you find resources and a community, it can make a big difference because you are with others that understand and can guide you accordingly.
Move your body!!! Staying stagnant and stressing over the physical changes that occur during menopause, can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
Getting outside in nature, strength training 2-3 times per week, dancing in your kitchen and reminding yourself that YOU are NOT your body - you HAVE a body, can help dismantle the idea that sexiness is external. Sexiness comes from within.
And hey....getting some really nice sexy lingerie doesn't hurt either ;)
You don’t need to go through your menopause transition alone.
We created High Heels & Hot Flashes events in Toronto to dispel myths around menopause and to help you redefine menopause so that you can feel confident as you navigate this stage of your life with pro-age energy!
Connect with us here: @samcoretrainer & @mayanageneviere