Hot flashes. Night sweats. Insomnia. Anxiety. When you start feeling these symptoms, you know it’s coming: menopause. We all know it’s a rite of passage, a life transition signaling a new stage, something virtually every woman will experience in life. Sure, it’s normal, and we all go through it . . . but does it have to be so darn annoying?
Menopause symptoms can appear years before ovulation ceases, which means years of less sleep and more stress. Although hormone replacement therapy was initially hailed as a godsend, doctors became more concerned about the potential side effects. So what is a gal to do when menopause hits?
As it turns out, massage therapy may be the answer. You may already be aware of the health benefits of massage since the treatments ease sore muscles, relax the body, and make you feel good. As it turns out, massage actually has more benefits for postmenopausal women, according to science.
The study dates back to 2011, when researchers recruited women between the ages of 50 and 65 with one of the most common menopause symptoms, insomnia. Twice a week for two months, these women enjoyed a one hour therapeutic massage (oh the sacrifices they made in the name of science!) Throughout the study, these women completed questionnaires about their quantity and quality of sleep, along with reporting feelings of anxiousness and anxiety. A sleep study and physical examinations also evaluated the women’s health and sleep habits.
The results were stunning. The participants all seemed to fall asleep more rapidly as the study progressed, experiencing better quality of sleep and awaking feeling more refreshed. Not only that, the women experienced significant improvement in their feelings of anxiety and depression. The benefits of the two months of massage seemed to persist a year later, although some of the participants reverted back to their previous sleep problems. It seems bi-weekly massage is a viable treatment option for the poor sleep, anxiety, and depression associated with menopause.
Some women may opt for hormone replacement therapy to treat menopause symptoms, and some may avoid these treatments because of health concerns. Either way, massage may help these gals cope with their menopause symptoms, drug-free. Therapeutic massage may be a good way to relax and de-stress for an hour, but it seems it can also help alleviate some of the most common menopause symptoms. That sounds like a win-win, and a good excuse to make an appointment at the spa. After all, it’s for your health.
Menopause refers to the end of ovulation and menstruation, but there is much more to it than that. Estrogen levels start to drop as early as three to five years before menopause, during a time called perimenopause. These dropping, and fluctuating, hormone levels affect various parts of the body, from reproductive organs to hair to bones to mental function.
The major menopause symptom is irregular periods, culminating in the end of menstruation altogether. Once menstruation has been absent for a year, menopause is official. Along with this, as estrogen levels drop, fertility lowers as well. Women can experience vaginal dryness and urinary problems from perimenopause onward.
Two of the most well-known, and common, menopause symptoms are hot flashes and night sweats. These night sweats can disturb sleep, but anxiety and insomnia during menopause can also make a good night’s sleep hard to come by. This lack of sleep can then trigger moodiness and depression, and memory and concentration can suffer too.
Since menopause symptoms are caused by fluctuating hormone levels, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help treat these symptoms along with lowering the risk of osteoporosis. However, there are concerns these treatments could raise the risk of cancer and stroke, so some doctors and patients may shy away from HRT. Beyond that, doctors may simply prescribe drugs to treat specific symptoms, such as antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, or other medication for hot flashes and feelings of depression, vaginal estrogen supplements for vaginal dryness, and osteoporosis treatments to reduce bone loss. Health practitioners may recommend lifestyle interventions, such as exercising regularly, cutting down on coffee, and keeping a regular sleep schedule. Research suggests massage can also treat menopause symptoms such as sleep and mood.
Massage therapy involves a registered massage therapist pressing, rubbing, and manipulating muscles and soft tissue. The most common type of massage is Swedish massage, but variations include sports massage geared toward athletes’ needs and pregnancy massage for the expectant mother. A hot stone massage involves placing heated stones on the body for the therapeutic benefits of heat, and reflexology applies pressure to hands and feet to target different areas of the body. A couple’s massage is a Swedish massage, but in this case, two people can experience a massage at the same time. Some people choose massage therapy for its medical benefits, and some choose massage just to relax and unwind.
In addition to relaxing muscles, studies have suggested massage therapy can help ease lower back pain and neck pain. Evidence suggests massage can lower blood pressure and heart rate, helping reduce anxiety and feelings of depression. Massage can also be a good way to relax and unwind, with a quiet hour to yourself and no to-do list to take care of.
In Ontario, massage therapy is a regulated heath profession, and registered massage therapist (RMT) is the designation of who is allowed to perform therapeutic massage. Just like a doctor or nurse, a registered massage therapist has completed certain educational requirements and has a certain number of hours of experience. These massage therapists have studied anatomy and are familiar with muscles, body tissues, and other aspects of treatment, and they are held to ethical standards by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO). An RMT is an expert at what they do, and are able to provide a proper therapeutic massage to their clients.
At Uptown Spa, massage sessions are 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes, and options include Swedish massage, couples massage, hot stone massage, and reflexology. Our registered massage therapists perform massage treatments during our regular business hours at York Mills and Leslie in North York. Book your appointment online or phone 416-449-4044 today to experience a relaxing massage in our luxurious spa setting, starting at just $55.