The impact of physical activity interventions on quality of life for women experiencing menopause transition symptoms: review of reviews
What did we do?
We undertook a review of reviews that addressed the following question and produced a comprehensive synthesis of the available evidence: how effective are physical activity interventions in improving quality of life for women experiencing the most commonly reported symptoms of menopause transition (broadly categorised as follows; vasomotor (hot flushes and night sweats) physical (musculoskeletal pain, headaches, palpitations, sleep problems, reduced muscle mass) urogenital symptoms (vaginal dryness) sexual difficulties (low sexual desire) and psychological (low mood / anxiety, concentration problems).
Why was this important?
The menopause is a naturally occurring process for women that typically takes place between the ages of 45 and 55 years (although some women may experience earlier menopause transition or surgically induced transition). A large proportion of women (around 80%) will experience a range of symptoms; including hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disruption, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and loss of confidence. Symptoms can last on average for four years, and for some women, up to 12 years, and can have a debilitating effect for some women. Women experiencing problematic menopausal symptoms tend to report lower levels of health-related quality of life and greater use of healthcare services than women without symptoms. Traditional medical treatment such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might not be suitable for some women going through the menopause, but starting them on an exercise plan may be of benefit to their immediate symptoms, and longer term health and well-being.
How did we do it?
We undertook an overview of reviews to produce a synthesis of available evidence on the impact of physical activity and exercise interventions on symptoms for women experiencing menopause. We carried out a detailed search of a range of databases for systematic reviews related to treatment of menopausal symptoms published in English.
The protocol was registered on PROSPERO https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?RecordID=298908
What did we find?
We found evidence of improvement of physical and urogenital symptoms following yoga interventions. Findings for aerobic exercise were inconclusive but there were some examples of beneficial effects on hot flushes and night sweats, though the evidence for this and for psychological symptoms was inconclusive. In conclusion, there is insufficient evidence to recommend a particular form of exercise for symptom management.
Who did we work with?