How do we take care of our health after attaining menopause?
Every woman goes through stages of menopausal transition &menopause. One can do lifestyle modification to stay fit during this phase:
- Attain and keep optimum body weight (BMI- 18-25).
- Take healthy diet- avoid high fat and sugar foods. Soy products are rich in isoflavones and can be helpful.
- Take calcium through diet and supplements. 1200 mg of calcium per day is recommended for menopausal women.
- Do 30 minutes of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise at least thrice per week (eg: brisk walk, swimming, weightlifting).
- Low-intensity exercise like Yoga can give some relief in hot flashes and give sense of general well being
- Get a regular preventive health checkup by your doctor.
- Do monthly breast self-examination and yearly mammography (X-ray of the breast to screen for breast cancer).
- PAP screening should continue until 65 years of age.
- HOT FLASHES: 60-80% of women can experience hot flashes. They usually start before attaining menopause
1. Wear loose cotton clothes
2. Stay in cool environment
3. Get your thyroid function checked
4. Avoid excessive tea, coffee and smoking (in case you do!) and alcohol
5. Keep a hot flash diary to track how bad or severe it is
6. If the above measures don’t help you, you will probably need some medicines. The best treatment for hot flashes is “Hormone Replacement Therapy” or HRT. It means to replace or top up the body’s natural supply of 'estrogen’. If you have had your womb removed (hysterectomy), you will be only be given estrogen. If not, then mostly it will be prescribed with another hormone‘progesterone’ to protect the lining of the womb. HRT is not safe if there is a history of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke or blood clot. You can discuss HRT with your gynaecologist if indicated.
- VAGINAL DRYNESS:
1. The depleted hormone levels can cause vaginal dryness that leads to painful sex and reduced sexual desire. Vaginal lubricants or moisturizer can help
2. Local estrogen cream in low dose for short duration is also very helpful. Use it only as prescribed by your gynaecologist
- REPEATED URINE INFECTION:
1. Drink 3 litres of liquid in a day
2. Do not hold urine for long. Pass urine every 2-3 hours
3. Check your blood sugars are under control
4. Sometimes local estrogen cream application can help by rebuilding the defence lining of the vaginal and urinary passage
- STRESS INCONTINENCE: It is leakage of urine on coughing or sneezing.
1. Lose weight if excessive
2. Avoid excessive tea, coffee, smoking and alcohol
3. Treat cough/ constipation if present
4. Pelvic floor muscle training exercise (as explained by your gynaecologist
5. If above measures do not work, your doctor might discuss with you about putting a tape (a tape is put surgically below the bladder neck to provide support and prevent urinary leak).
- BONE WEAKNESS:
1. Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise every day (walking, running, swimming, weightlifting)
2. Give yourself 15-20 minutes of sun exposure daily with exposed skin to form adequate Vitamin D.
3. Take high soy diet and calcium supplements
4. If there is a history of fracture or proven weakness of bone on X-Ray (Osteoporosis), meet a doctor who specializes in bone health. He/she will prescribe you specific medicines for bone health.