Updated: May 27, 2021
A less common symptom associated with the menopause is shortness of breath. This is because your lungs are made up of mucous membranes and falling oestrogen levels may mean that this area becomes increasingly dry. A lot of women experience a dry mouth and irritated eyes as well.
Your lungs need to remain wet so that the muscle tissue can expand and contract easily so that the oxygen from the lung surface can be easily transported into the bloodstream. If these areas dry out the capacity of the lungs to expand decreases, which can lead to shortness of breath.
One way to counteract the effects of this breathlessness is to practice breathing deeply and drinking enough water. We tend to not think about our breathing most of the time and so are inclined to breathe shallowly. It is important to get into the habit of deep breathing for at least a few minutes everyday to exercise our lungs. This will also allow you to practice 'mindfulness' at the same time - we often live in the future and thinking about a lot of things... mindfulness and breathing will bring you back to the present moment.
Go on a walk, get some fresh air, raise your heart rate, and breathe deeply. Also remember to drink plenty of water – 2 liters is recommended for women per day. This will ease your hot flushes and if you feel like one coming on, deep breathing will also help.
The skill of breathing deeply is important – it spreads energy-giving oxygen into the bloodstream, removes carbon dioxide, and stimulates your entire body. It also maximises the effect of any type of exercise you may take part in.
One good way to learn to breathe properly is to use diaphragmatic deep breathing techniques. This can both energise and relax you and is a popular method of reducing anxiety or stress.
The diaphragm is a thin skeletal muscle that sits at the base of your chest and separates your abdomen from your chest. It contracts and flattens when you inhale. This creates a vacuum effect that pulls air into the lungs.
One exercise you can try is resting your hand on your lower tummy so you can feel your breath expanding and contracting your abdominal wall and moving up through your body. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed and your spine long and straight.
Start to inhale by breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose. Let this breath flow into your upper body and down your ribcage, filling the diaphragm, back and lower back, all the way down into your pelvis.
Hold for a couple of seconds then let go of your breath slowly. Drop your lower abs, then your belly. Let your ribs pull in, and finally, let your chest to drop as the air gently flows out your body.
Repeat this exercise several times so that you get a feel of how the air flows in and out of your body. Try not to tense your shoulders – they should remain down and relaxed. Also, as you want to inhale throughout your entire chest, keep that relaxed and still so that your ribcage maintains it shape.
You will find that deep breathing is a technique that well worth discovering!
* Jo Weatherall | Menopause, Mayhem & Teens tries its best to ensure that all the Information published on the website/blog is accurate and true to our knowledge. This information is our interpretation of the research we have carried out. However, in case of any inaccuracies, errors, or any such defects, Jo Weatherall | Menopause, Mayhem & Teens and its team shall not be liable.