Zoe Gullen |

Rowing and menopause

‘We haven’t evolved to be post-menopausal women,’ says consultant gynaecologist and 1984 Olympic rower Kate Panter. Longer life expectancies mean that women are now outliving the span of time we were designed for, and with that come the challenges of menopause and its changes to our bodies and lives. Zoe Gullen finds out how rowing can help with these

Menopause affects the whole body and all women, but experiences vary enormously. While Kate has particular interests in sports gynaecology and menopause, and is both a member of the Medical Advisory Council of the British Menopause Society and a specialist advisor in women’s health/gynaecology to the English Institute of Sport, she stresses that what follows is general health advice rather than medical direction. This is also in line with current NICE guidance, which is not a one-size-fits all approach but rather, Kate says, ‘Care should be individualised to the woman, her symptoms, her past medical history and what she is trying to achieve.’

Note: Following British Menopause Society usage, ‘woman’ has been used to mean ‘individuals whose sex assigned at birth was female, whether they identify as female, male, or non-binary’.

Maintaining a comfortable body temperature

Hot flushes and night sweats are among the most familiar symptoms of menopause. Problems with heat regulation are caused by the narrowing of the body’s thermoneutral zone, which means the range of comfortable body temperature becomes smaller and so it’s easy to feel too hot or too cold.

Kate says, ‘One of the big things is that you should have lots of layers on your bed when you sleep, such as having a sheet and an eiderdown rather than one big 18-tog duvet,’ and advises the same in training: ‘Layer up: you will get hot and cold, so you need to be able to add or remove clothing. Take a dry bag in the boat to stow extra clothes.’

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