Menopause is often portrayed as a negative and stigmatized phase of life, but it doesn't have to be that way. It’s a phase of life that every women will experience as she ages that brings with it a range of physical 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.
This is where you may start to notice changes in your period and menopausal symptoms. This phase can begin as early as your mid-30s and last 4-10 years while the start of menopause can be different for every woman, and can usually start between the ages of 40-55.
Learning to understand your body changes and taking charge of your emotional wellbeing during menopause 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 20 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 late 40s, you’ll start to notice some changes as you approach menopause—the period known as perimenopause. Your periods will be less frequent, and hormones begin to change, your 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.
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 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.
How to Be Breast Aware
Being breast aware is important for everyone, especially for those with an increased risk of breast cancer due to a genetic mutation or family history. Being breast aware means getting to know your own body.
Get comfortable with what your breasts normally look and feel like, and how they may normally change over the course of the month. If you are breast aware, you may notice unusual changes to your breasts sooner.
What changes should I look for?
- Lumpiness in your breasts is normal breast tissue. However, it is important to know what is normal for you so that you can notice any changes. You may also notice changes during your menstrual cycle.
- Lumps that are new, hard, or do not move easily are more worrisome. You should also feel for any lumps in your armpits.
- Monthly breast self-exams and annual breast examinations by a healthcare provider or nurse are recommended. However, if you are breast aware, you can look out for changes that may indicate early signs of breast cancer.
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.
You don’t need to go through your menopause transition alone.
Connect with us here: @samcoretrainer & @mayanageneviere