Did You Know? Your Girlfriends Are Good For Your Health

friends and support

There’s an old saying ‘you can’t pick your relatives’ – you know that one right?

It’s soooo true, but let’s not go there.

The good news is that we can (and do) pick our girlfriends.

Of course, that’s not news; it’s simply a no-brainer.

But did you know that science has shown that having great girlfriends is good for your health?

Girlfriends Lower Our Stress Levels

It seems that hanging out and swapping stories about sons, daughters or husbands, or sharing a vino or two and going on adult play dates is about far more than just plain old fun. It’s a scientifically proven stress release.

I don’t know about you but I adore my girlfriends. Many of them have been there through thick and thin, some have even outlasted boyfriends/husbands and much-loved pets.

I can be having the worst day, but bring on girl-time and I’ll get out of the funk. For women, girlfriends are a precious connection. We love our boys and our kids but girlfriends hold a special place in our hearts.

Tend And Befriend

In 2000, a study was conducted at UCLA. The principal investigator, Shelley E. Taylor reported findings that women cope with stress with a ‘tend and befriend’ behaviour. This is characterised by protecting and nurturing their young (tend) and seeking social contact and support from other females (befriend).

women cope with stress by ‘tending and befriending’ behaviour. Protecting and nurturing their young (tend) and seeking social contact and support from other females (befriend). Click To Tweet

Shelley and her fellow researchers looked to the hormone oxytocin as a major contributing factor. Oxytocin is known as the ‘love’ hormone encouraging bonding and snuggles. It’s been studied largely for its role in childbirth (it helps contact the womb during pregnancy and lactation). “But it’s also secreted in both men and women as a response to stress,” she said. “Its effects appear to be reduced in men, but science shows it plays a key role in reducing female stress.” And therefore the stress hormone cortisol, which is so important during menopause. 

It’s why when we’re a bit nonplussed we’ll chat on the phone with friends or relatives or cuddle our kids.

With all of that said it’s worth noting that estrogen plays a role in the production of oxytocin. And as our estrogen dips during menopause so do our oxytocin levels. In fact, some science says this can worsen some of the signs we experience. Ongoing research is continuing as we seek to understand the extent of oxytocin’s role.

Girlfriend Empowerment Is A ‘Thing’

Going back to the UCLA study, it goes a long way to explaining why women love getting together. Especially when we’re going through the same – potentially stressful – issues. When we’re younger that may be pregnancy; now that we’re older – the signs of menopause and/or midlife weight gain. 

That’s why we set up the 40+club group on Facebook. To form a sisterhood.

Girlfriends Are Good For Your Health

Gathering with girlfriends or like-minded women is a brilliant way to get and give support, de-stress, reach goals and/or go on a journey. As you’ve just read science has proven we thrive in that environment.

In Conclusion

As we go through perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause swapping stories with the girls can be beneficial.
 
Not only does this factor into the sense of community that’s so key for human health but there’s nothing like the support of like-minded people going through the same experiences.
 
Indeed, community is one of our 7 Wellness Pillars For Your Best Menopause.
 

We invite you to come and join us in the 40+club so we can come together. Let’s discuss signs, weight management, wellness, and give anyone who needs it some support. 💙

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Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.