Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles for over a year. It is a natural biological process that happens in your late 40s or 50s. Even if a woman is no longer menstruating, she might continue to experience symptoms of menopause.
One of the significant post-menopausal symptoms includes change in hormones that affects the physical and mental health of a woman. It increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease), osteoporosis (weak bones), and urinary tract infections (UTIs). A decrease in estrogen production causes women to experience a variety of changes in their bodies after menopause. Women should take care of their health in a variety of ways to prevent health problems and maintain overall wellness. However, there are certain health risks associated after menopause:
Some of the health risks that can increase after menopause include:
1. Osteoporosis: Due to the decrease in estrogen levels, women are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures.
2. Cardiovascular disease: Estrogen helps protect against heart disease, so women are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease after menopause.
3. Weight gain: Women may find it harder to maintain a healthy weight after menopause due to hormonal changes and a slower metabolism.
4. Breast cancer: Women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.
To take care of the overall health after menopause, there are several things women should take care of:
• Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling.
• Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce the risk of many health problems. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks, which can negatively impact hormonal balance.
• Get enough calcium and vitamin D: These nutrients are important for bone health, and women may need to supplement their diets with calcium and vitamin D after menopause.
• Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of many health problems, including osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
• Get regular health screenings: After menopause women are more prone to diseases therefore regular health screenings at least twice a year is advisable.
• Stay socially active: Staying socially connected is important for emotional health, and it can also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Make time for friends and family, join a club or group, or volunteer in your community.
• Manage stress: Stress can have a negative impact on health, so it’s important to find ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or talking with a therapist.
• Consider hormone therapy: Hormone therapy can help reduce the risk of some health problems, such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, but it is not appropriate for everyone. Talk to your doctor to see if hormone therapy is right for you.
Menopause is another physiological phase of the life cycle, just like puberty. Thus, it can be embraced as an organic transitional opportunity to reset your body and mind. However, just because menopause is natural, doesn’t mean you have to experience the symptoms without treatment. Women should not be afraid to speak up about their priorities when it comes to treatment for certain symptoms which are inhibiting their ability to carry out their daily lives.
While it can feel overwhelming in the face of certain symptoms, putting your health and well-being front and centre during this time of life can be life altering. Proper medical care can restore what gets lost through this transitory phase and can even help recreate the best version of oneself.
Dr Priyanka Suhag is a Consultant-Obstetrics &