Navigating Menopause with Hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

When I hit the menopause or rather it hit me, my life changed dramatically. I had been managing my hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos symptoms pretty well until then.

hypermobility

by Jeannie di Bon, December 22nd, 2023

Navigating Menopause with Hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Through my movement therapy and regular movement practice, I no longer had hypermobility related pain and discomfort. But the perimenopause came with all sorts of triggers that appeared to be giving me new, uncomfortable symptoms and making older symptoms flare up again. Almost overnight, pain returned to my joints and muscles, headaches and migraines took on a whole new level and most distressing of all was experiencing repeated bladder infections and inflammation, that my GP was unable to help with. I was at a total loss physically and my mental health was taking a toll. But why did the menopause trigger my hypermobility symptoms? 

Hormones and EDS

Both research and my clinical experience indicate hormones play a big role in the levels of pain experienced by people with Hypermobility and Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

If you have hEDS/HSD you may experience symptoms including joint laxity, sprains, muscle stiffness, fatigue, SI joint pain, pelvic pain, and brain fog. I have found in my own experience and that of Navigating The Menopause support group in The Zebra Club this huge shift in hormones seems to make these symptoms worse.

According to the National Institute on Aging, menopause is defined as a point in time 12 month’s after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. The transition leading up to this time point, called perimenopause, often includes changes in monthly cycles, hot flashes, and other symptoms. During this time, the production of estrogen and progesterone varies greatly.

How Should We Adapt Our Exercise to Manage This Transition?

Here are my tips for exercising during this transition:

  1. Breathwork to calm the nervous system.
  2. Mindful movements – slow and steady.
  3. Gentle weight bearing to help maintain bone density and help with osteoporosis.
  4. Training with bands and balls, but building up tolerance slowly.
  5. Balance work to help prevent injury.
  6. Stability work, but not through bracing or guarding the muscles.
  7. Taking time to rest and restore.

It is only recently that the menopause has been publicly spoken about in the media and in public amongst friends. When my mother went through it, it was never discussed. I was actually quite afraid of it.  But now there is a great deal more information available and support. I’ve found speaking to other women in the Menopause group in The Zebra Club really helpful. It was so validating to hear that other women had also experienced the same as me. We shared ideas, solutions and our experiences. It is so much easier when you don’t feel alone. Hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can already make people feel isolated and not seen. The support network within The Zebra Club can really help when we need a little boost.

To learn more about menopause find my podcast interview with my friend Dinah Simon.

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