The most common symptoms of the menopause include hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping and a reduced sex drive. Women may also experience “brain fog” or problems with memory and concentration. Less well known can include symptoms such as headaches, mood changes which include low mood and anxiety; joint stiffness, aches and pains, reduced muscle mass and increased risk of osteoporosis.
One woman's experience of wild swimming has helped her through this stage of her life and may help you.
She began to not feel herself 6 years ago. She had entered what she now knows as perimenopause and her symptoms included:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flushes and sleep problems.
- Mood changes
- Vaginal and bladder problems
- Achy bones
- Brain fog
She started her journey of trying to find out more by asking her mother about what her symptoms were but was told that that she “just sailed through it”. This led her to google about what was happening to her body and what she could do to help naturally control the symptoms. Amongst this research she read an article on the benefits of cold water swimming and gave this a go.
Via social media, she joined a group of swimmers who swim all year round. She joined her first swim with them. The water temperature was about 11 degrees and as she slipped into the water and let the cold water wash over her, she felt instantly at peace. She noticed the following week that her achy hips were not quite as achy and she was not waking up in the middle of the night hot and sweaty.
She continued swimming through the winter twice a week. The brain fog eased, and she was able to tackle complex challenges at work with new vigour. Also her family noticed the change as her mood swings eased.
After four years of continual all year-round swimming and while things are not always perfect, she does believe the cold water has helped alleviate many of the symptoms naturally.
After now passing through what is classed as the "menopause" she still experiences some of the symptoms described above but honestly believes that the dopamine hit from the cold water has aided her through this transition in her life.
Advice to all women out there at this stage of life is to connect with a group of swimmers and give it a go. Not only is the water a great healer but the friendships made are invaluable. The baked goods consumed after a swim are also invaluable too.
If you are thinking of taking up wild swimming take a look at our Open Water Safety Guide for more information.