There are many myths and misconceptions about menopause especially in our Arab world. The most inspiring fact is that women of the new millennium going through menopause are much more youthful than women of the past. They are active, employed or in business, energetic, and in top shape; indicating through their personal stories that they are happier and more productive than ever before in their lives. Women entering their forties want answers to simple questions.
The fact is, you might not know when it begins. Other than a change in your periods, you may not feel any different. Each woman experiences it differently. In pre or peri-menopause, you may start to have irregular periods – heavy bleeding or light bleeding one month and then no periods for several months, or a light period every month (or any combination of these). Then, at some point, you will stop having periods, a menopause fact that is cause for celebration. Free from worry about accidents, free of pre-menopausal tension, free of cramps…what could be better!
Menopause is part of a gradual and natural process in which the ovaries produce less and less of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone and menstrual periods gradually disappear. For most women this process begins silently somewhere around 40 years of age when periods may become less regular. This time of change is called perimenopause or premenopause. The average age women complete menopause is around 51. Some women experience menopause at younger ages due to premature ovarian failure, cancer therapy or surgical removal of both ovaries.
Each woman experiences menopause differently. Changing hormone levels can cause a variety of symptoms that may last from a few months to a few years or longer. Some women have slight discomfort or worse. Others have little or no trouble. If any of these changes bother you, check with your doctor. The most common symptoms include:
One of the first signs may be irregular periods. Some may have a lighter flow than normal; others have a heavier flow and may bleed a lot for many days. They may come more often and last longer.
A hot flash is a sudden rush of heat in the upper part or all of your body. Flushes that occur during the night are usually referred to as night sweats and often disrupt sleep. A flush causes a sudden and uncomfortable feeling of extreme heat, which radiates upwards from the chest and back to the neck and face. It can trigger heavy sweating and redness and some women also experience palpitations, dizziness, weakness and anxiety. Many women feel cold and clammy, because the sweating mechanism reduces the body’s temperature. A flush can last from just a few seconds to 10 minutes, but the average duration is four minutes.
Vaginal dryness, itching and burning can make sexual intercourse painful. Vaginal infections can become more common. Some women have more urinary tract infections or problems with holding urine.
Some women find they have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. They may not fall asleep easily or may wake too early. They may need to get up to go to the bathroom and then not able to fall back to sleep. Hot flashes can interfere with sleep.
There may be a relationship between changes in estrogen levels and a woman’s mood. Shifts in mood also may be caused by stress, family changes or feeling tired. Depression is not a symptom of menopause.
There are two common problems that can start to happen at menopause: osteoporosis and heart disease.
Every day your body breaks down old bone and replaces it with new healthy bone. Estrogen helps control bone loss, so losing estrogen around the time of menopause causes women to begin to lose more bone than is replaced. In time, bones can become weak and break easily. This condition is caused osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor to see if you should have a bone density test to find out if you are at risk for this problem. Your doctor also can suggest ways to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercise and a diet high in calcium and Vitamin D can help.
After menopause, women are more likely to have heart disease. Changes in estrogen levels may be part of the cause. But, so is getting older. As you age, you may develop other problems, like high blood pressure or weight gain, that put you at greater risk for heart disease. Be sure to have your blood pressure and levels of triglycerides, fasting blood glucose and LDL, HDL and total cholesterol checked regularly. Talk to your health care provider to find out what you should do to protect your heart. Tips to keep your bone healthy
Anything that can cause the body temperature to go up can act as a trigger for flushing e.g an over warm room or hot food and drink. Stress also seems to increase flushing. If you suffer from frequent flushes, it may help for you to record when and where they occur and your emotions just beforehand, as well as any foods or drink you had. You should then be able to identify your triggers and plan ways to avoid or at least minimize them.
Research suggests that cutting down on the amount of coffee you drink or switching to de-caff can help to reduce hot flushes. The combination of caffeine and the temperature of the drink can trigger hot flushes in many women. This applies to cola and tea as well, though tea contains around only half as much caffeine. Try replacing one or two cups a day with plain water, or a herbal tea you enjoy. Most supermarkets now stock a variety of herbal teas.
Monitor your reactions to spicy foods, some women find they can bring on flushes and are best avoided. Use garlic and herbs such as fennel and parsley in cooking instead.
There’s evidence to suggest that being excessively overweight during the peri-menopause can trigger flushing. Being too thin may also increase flushing.
Avoid foods containing refined sugars and carbohydrates such as sweets, chocolate, cakes and biscuits. Eating refined sugar gives you a quick energy boost which in turn generates heat and can lead to flushing. Instead, opt for slow-burning natural sugars by eating fresh and dried fruits. If you dislike hot drinks without sugar, try using a little honey instead. Honey is thought to raise the blood sugar more slowly than refined sugar. It’s best to eat little and often, because digesting large meals can generate heat, which in turn can trigger hot flushes. You should also choose foods with a low glycaemic index, which means they are digested slowly, causing a gradual rise in your blood sugar including protein foods such as lean meat and low-fat dairy products in your diet can also help, because they slow down the rate at which glucose is absorbed.
>Try these top tips for instant cooling relief from the effects of a hot flush:
- Running your inner wrists under a cold tap for a minute or two can cool you down rapidly.
- When you feel a flush coming on, drink cold water to cool you down and relieve the effects
- Carry a handbag-sized mineral water spray and spray your face and neck to take the heat out of a flush. Make sure you carry tissues to blot your skin afterwards. Rose water used in the same way is aromatic and cooling.
- Carry a pack of body wipes in your handbag. They’re great for freshening up after a hot flush. Lemon or cucumber fragranced ones are particularly cooling and refreshing. For added coolness, store them in the fridge.
- As an alternative to wipes, keep a damp face cloth in the fudge. To enhance the effects, add a few drops of cooling peppermint, or rose oil to water and wring the cloth out in the solution.
- Place a bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer on your face, neck, inner arms and wrists for instant cooling relief from a hot flush.
Research suggests that regular relaxation can reduce flushing by up to 60 per cent. During a flush, relax and take deep, calming breaths rather than tensing up and you may find it passes more quickly. One study suggested that deep breathing can cut the number of flushes experienced by half. Aim to inhale slowly through your nostrils to a count of three whilst expanding your stomach. Hold for a count of three and then exhale through your mouth counting to six, whilst flattening your stomach. When a flush strikes, visualize being in a cool place – perhaps in an icy cold plunge pool. Imagine a feeling of icy coldness washing over you, from your feet right up to your head.
Studies shows that being physically active for one to three hours a week reduces the occurrence of hot flushes. You don’t have to go to the gym – you could just aim at being more active in your daily life. See More Hints for a Healthier Menopause, for ideas on how to achieve this.
Smoking increases your risk of flushing as well as contributing to other menopause-related symptoms and conditions. Giving up is difficult, but there is help available – see your GP for details of your nearest Smoking Cessation clinic, where you’ll be offered advice and support. Alternatively, visit www.gosmokefree.nhs.uk.
Synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester can make the sweating that comes with hot flushes worse. Try wearing clothes made from cotton and linen, as they absorb sweat. Go for loose fitting clothes and wear layers: then when you feel yourself heating up, you can remove a layer. Avoid anything that covers your neck, because when you flush it’s harder for the heat to escape. Silk shirts or dresses aren’t a good idea either, because any wet patches will be immediately visible.
Make sure you stay cool at home and at the office by turning down the heating, turning on the air conditioning or opening a window. Another useful item to have in your handbag is a hand-held, battery-operated fan. They’re fairly cheap to buy and quickly cool you down.
Hot flushes can disrupt your sleep. One minute you’re too hot and removing your nightwear and casting aside your duvet, the next you’re too cold and pulling everything back on . To minimize the risk of this happening, try the following simple actions:
- Keep your bedroom as cool as possible. Turn off the radiator. If your partner complains, point out that a cool room is conducive to sleep anyway.
- Use cotton bedding and nightwear. Sleep with a cotton sheet under your duvet. If a flush strikes, you can throw off the duvet and still be lightly covered
- Keep a cool gel pack beneath your pillow at night – the type you can chill in the freezer. Turn your pillow over whenever you need to cool down.
- Keep a glass of cool water, perhaps with a sprig of refreshing mint at your bedside and sip to replace fluids lost through night sweats. In really hot weather add ice and store in a thermos flask.
Finally try not to feel embarrassed by a flush. Although you may feel unbearably hot and uncomfortable, it’s likely that other people won’t even notice.
Stress plays an important factor in your health. Although some stress types are good, there are many that aren’t. Good stress helps you stay motivated with a plan of action helps you be creative and successful.
When you experience stress that gives you the feeling demand exceeds your reserves, it can impact your health in a negative way.
Many women are swimming in stress and responsibilities, which can manifest more than just gray hairs. Excessive stress can translate to high blood pressure, upset stomach, back pain, relationship conflicts, and eating disorders, to name a few. Manage stress with therapy, relaxation techniques, prayer, meditation, exercise, or a combination of these.
Self awareness is important in allowing yourself to identify exactly who you are. Knowing what your character is, what your thoughts, values, weaknesses and strengths are defines who you are.
Low self esteem and negative thinking are major impacts on your health, both physically and mentally.
Personal growth is an asset that allows you to find your purpose in life, your spirituality and inner peace. Self acceptance is crucial in life because it not only impacts you personally; it impacts all of those around you.
- Simply take a little time out from your regular routine every day, and do something that’s just for you(reading a book, listen to the music, etc..)
- Happy, nice weekends. Try not to bring work home, or to work at weekends.
- When you take time out at home, don’t use it to catch up on the ironing, or sort the clean laundry. Leave those tasks aside for a while, and take a stroll around your garden instead, have a shower or bath, or call a good friend – anything that makes you feel good.
- Exercises including plenty or exercise in your life is one or the best ways to reduce stress, aerobic exercises and resistance strength exercises on a regular basis are or great importance. Exercise is great for body and mind, so build it into your life every day.
- Get enough sleeping hours. Go to bed at the same time every night and aim for eight hours sleep – this will help you to avoid sleeping disturbance during menopause, try to make your bedroom an inviting and comforting environment.
- Cultivate happiness. Happiness doesn’t just happen – there’s plenty you can do to cultivate it. And the more routes to happiness you have in your life, the better able you’ll be to keep stress under control.
- A balanced diet. Consume a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients. While you can take a multivitamin designed for menopausal women, it’s wise to get as many nutrients as possible from fresh food. Poor nutrition can seriously tax your body. Do yourself a favor and maintain a proper diet.
- Pay attention to your appearance
HRT is a huge and highly controversial topic. The decision whether to take it or not is a personal one that only you can make. The arguments for and against HRT are complex. The better informed you are, the more likely you are to make the right choice for you.
HRT stands for Hormones Replacement Therapy. HRT comes in three main regimes – oestrogen only, cyclical combined and continuous combined – and in various forms, including pills, patches, implants and gels.
Cyclical combined HRT, where you take oestrogen each day and progestogen for 12 to 14 days of each cycle is normally offered if you are still having periods, or have had a period within the past year. This can be in patch or oral form, or a combination of both, and leads to a bleed every 28 days.
If you haven’t had a period for a year or longer, you’ll probably be offered a ocntnuous combined HRT, which means you take both oestrogen and progestogen each day. It’s available as a pill, or a patch. In theory, you shouldn’t have a monthly bleed, but some women experience spotting, or mild and irregular bleeds for the first six months or so.
Evidence suggests that the benefits of taking HRT include the prevention of hot flushes and night sweats; the alleviation of hormonally related low mood, vaginal dryness and insomnia; and a reduced risk of osteoporosis and bowel cancer.
As with all medications, the overall risks versus the benefits need to be weighed up. In the case of HRT, the flaws in the research need to be taken into account too.
If you experience menopause before the age of 45, you have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis because in effect you’ve lost several years’ worth of the bone-protective effects of oestrogen. HRT has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures, so in this case scenario the benefits could outweigh the risks. Also, some of the risks associated with HRT may be lower in this age group. In its Consensus Statement on HRT; The British Menopause Society Council remarks that an increase in breast cancer as a result of taking any type of HRT isn’t seen among women who take HRT early, for premature menopause.
If, despite following a healthy lifestyle, your menopausal symptoms are so severe they’re affecting your quality of life, the benefits of taking HRT may well outweigh the risks. HRT has been shown to prevent hot flushes and night sweats in most cases. It’s also effective for relieving vaginal dryness and may help hormone-related depression and insomnia.
Evidence suggests that possible side effects of taking combined HRT include bloating, breast tenderness, and increased headaches/migraine. Although some women report fewer depressions and some initial nausea. If you have fibroids they may increase in size.
Such effects can be transient, so your GP may suggest you continue for a few months to see if the problems settle down. However, if you experience these effects persistently or suffer more serious ones, such as severe pain or breathlessness, see your GP or other medical professional as soon as possible.
Whether you take HRT or not is your choice. The decision you make is likely to be influenced by factors such as how you view the menopause, the extent of your symptoms, how you feel about taking medication every day, and your perception of and attitude to the risks. If you feel strongly that HRT might help you, speak to your GP and discuss the pros and cons for you as an individual. Your GP should assess your personal risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease and take into account any other contradictions – for example suffering from migraines – before prescribing. Obviously, you should only take HRT for as long as you need to. The current recommendation is that women should use it for the shortest possible time – usually less than five years – though some women may need to take it for longer. You may opt for HRT and then, perhaps as a result of side effects, decide it’s not for you. Or you may find you can’t do without it.
Whether you opt for HRT or not, evidence suggests that tailoring your diet and lifestyle can help to control the symptoms of the menopause. We’ve already looked at how a poor diet can exacerbate, or even cause, hot flushes. An inadequate diet may also contribute to other menopausal symptoms and common postmenopausal diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Drinking enough water is always important, whatever your age, but ensuring you drink enough before, during and after the menopause can help to prevent the development of other conditions that can be a problem at this time, such as cystitis and migraine. YOUR BRAIN is 80 per cent water, so drinking enough helps ensure its healthy function. It’s especially important to replace the fluid lost through flushing and night sweats. The Food Standards Agency recommends that we drink at least 1.2 liters of fluid per day
Phytoestrogens are plant oestrogens that appear to have an oestrogenic or anti-oesrroeenic effect. Bacteria in the gut convert these plant hormones into substances that may provide similar benefits to oestrogen. The three main types of phytoestrogens are lsoflavones, lignans and coumestans. The four most active isoflavones appear to be genistein, daidzein. biochanin A and formononetin. The best sources of isoflavones are pulses. Lignans are obtained mainly from cereals, fruit, vegetables and seeds. Coumestans are largely found in bean sprouts.
women. in parts of Asia who eat lots of foods containing these phytonutrients, such as soya, rce and vegetables, seem to have fewer menopausal symptoms.
The breast cancer rate is also much lower – about a quarter of that occurring in the UK and US. Research suggests that women in the UK and US have an average daily Isoflavone intake of 4.5 mg. whereas the average Japanese woman s Intake each day is 50 mg. and in some cases can be as high as 100 mg.
There’s evidence to suggest that some, but not all, women benefit from eating more of these foods, or taking phytoestrogen rich supplements, with up to 40 per cent fewer hot flushes, stronger bones and softer skin. A review of 13 studies concluded that women who suffer from frequent flushes benefit the most. It seems some women absorb phytoestrogens better than others. Antibiotics can hinder absorption, because they destroy beneficial bacteria.
Substitute soya mince for meat when cooking. A 100 g portion of soya beans contains about 37 mg of isoflavones. Try them in casseroles, stews and salads. Dried soya beans need to be soaked overnight. Tinned ones can be used, but if they have added salt rinse them first.
Miso, a paste made from fermented soya beans that can be used like a stock cube to add flavor to stews, soups and casseroles, is a concentrated source of isoflavones.
Soy sauce, also produced from fermented soya beans, contributes small amounts of isoflavones when added to dishes like stir-fries or noodles.
A soya milk fruit smoothie is a great way to include both phytoestrogens and more fruit in your diet. Because you’re blending, rather than juicing, you get the benefits of the whole fruit, including the fiber. You can add any fruit you like – apricots, strawberries, peaches, pears and cherries taste good in a smoothie and are rich in phytoestrogens. Cinnamon not only adds flavor, but boosts the phytoestrogen content too.
If you dislike soya products, or find that diet alone doesn’t improve your symptoms, consider taking a supplement with soya isoflavones and other phytoestrogens.
Chickpeas contain all four types of isoflavones, so they’re well worth including in your diet. Use them to add interest to stews, curries, pastas and salads, or use them instead of rice to stuff peppers or tomatoes. Hummus contains chickpeas and makes a great dip, or sandwich filler. You can buy it in most supermarkets, or you can make your own
Lentils contain all four classes of isoflavones as well as some lignans and coumestans. They’re also high in fibers. There are various types, including red, green, brown, orange and black. Try adding them to curries, soups and broths. Unlike other dried pulses, they don’t need soaking first.
Like lentils, peas contain isoflavones and fiber, so they’re worth eating regularly.
Eat fruits, not only for the usual associated benefits, such as vitamins and fiber, but also for their phytoestrogen content. Apricots, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, peaches, pears, nectahnes, pink grapefruit, cherries, kiwis and plums are especially high in lignans, though most other fruits contain some.
Sprinkle one or two tablespoons of linseeds, otherwise known as flaxseeds, over cereals, salads, yogurt or even stir-fries to relieve menopausal symptoms. Nutty flavored linseeds are the best source of lignans and contain omega- 3 oils and fiber, so they could help relieve hot flushes as well as protect against heart disease and help maintain gut and general health.
Other seeds, especially sesame and sunflower, are also good sources of lignans. Raw seeds contain the most – baking or roasting them seems to reduce the lignan content. But if you find raw linseeds difficult to chew, you can buy them roasted and still benefit from decent amounts of lignans.
Another way of increasing your phytoestrogen intake is to include oats in your diet. Oats are a good source of lignans. it makes a satisfying breakfast.
Garlic is a good source of lignans. It can be used to add flavor to many dishes: pastas, stir-fries and pizzas, to name but a few. Garlic also contains sulphur compounds, including allicin, which are believed to protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol and may lower the risk of stomach and bowel cancers.
Declining estrogen and progesterone levels are thought to contribute to low mood. To help avoid depression and anxiety it’s important to eat foods that provide the nutrients essential to healthy brain function.
- Oily fish. such as sardines, salmon and mackerel, and nuts, seeds and vegetable oils contain essential fatty acids, which are vital for healthy brain function. Avoid low-fat diets research suggests that drastically reducing all types of fat in the diet can cause anxiety and depression.
- Foods with a low Glycaemic Index (GI), such as oats and whole wheat cereals, bread and pasta, help maintain a steady blood sugar and avoid the irritability and depression that can result from low blood sugar. These carbohydrates also help the body make serotonin, a brain chemical that boosts mood and self-esteem.
- Bananas, avocados, chicken and turkey are rich in tryptophan and vitamin B6, which the body uses to make mood- enhancing serotonin. Eggs, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds also contain tryptophan.
Avocado advantage: Avocados are also rich in vitamin E. They’re high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol and raises good (HDL) cholesterol. This means they’re quite high in calories, so restrict your portion size to half an avocado. They also contain the antioxidant betacarotene, B vitamins, including folate, vitamin C and iodine, for healthy thyroid function.
- Dairy foods are rich in calcium, which induces calm, as well as tryptophan, making them great mood boosters.
- B vitamins ensure a healthy nervous system and stave off depression. Wholegrain, meat, fish, dairy foods, nuts. seeds, beans and green vegetables and citrus fruits will provide all the B vitamins.
- Nuts, wholegrain, beans and green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium. A lack of magnesium can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Include selenium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts, shellfish and liver. A low selenium intake has been linked to depression.
- Chocolate increases serotonin (a mood and sleep-enhancing substance) in the brain. Plain chocolate is the healthiest, as milk chocolate contains fewer flavones and more fat and sugar.
- Vanilla also has a calming effect. Try drinking hot milk with pure vanilla extract.
Oestrogen promotes bone renewal and improves calcium absorption into the bones, so the reduced levels associated with the menopause mean you’re more at risk of osteoporosis.
The phytoestrogen rich foods already mentioned could have similar effects on the bones as oestrogen, so eating these foods may benefit your bones, as well as your menopausal symptoms. To help slow bone loss after the menopause you also need to ensure an adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc. Let’s now look at the foods that provide these nutrients
Strengthens the bones. It’s recommended that postmenopausal women have around 1,500 mg of calcium daily. The richest sources of calcium are dairy foods – especially low-fat milk, low-fat hard cheese and yogurt. Tinned sardines are a good source, if you eat the bones. Good non-animal calcium providers include almonds, seeds, tofu, soya, seaweed, figs, dates, dried apricots, Brazil nuts, purple broccoli, watercress, leeks, parsnips, lentils and beans and green leafy vegetables such as kale.
Is essential for calcium absorption. It’s produced by the body, following exposure to sunlight. Margarines, cereals and powdered milk are generally fortified with vitamin D. Other sources include liver and oily fish. The recommended daily allowance is between 400 and 800 IU.
Is involved in converting vitamin D to active from needed to ensure calcium absorption thus helping maintain bone density. Nuts, whole grains and leafy green vegetables are good sources. Around 60 per cent of the magnesium in your body is stored in your bones.
Stimulates bone formation. Meat, whole grains, dairy foods, nuts and seeds are good sources.
Sprinkle leafy green vegetables with a little ordinary vinegar to increase your absorption of the calcium they contain. Drinking a tablespoon of cider vinegar and honey in warm water once or twice a day is also recommended for increasing calcium absorption. ‘Good’ bacteria – probiotic such as Lactobacilius- seem to improve calcium absorption. There are lots of probiotic foods and drinks on the market, but they can be expensive – natural live bio-yogurt is a good, relatively cheap source. Eating probiotic foods such as onions, tomatoes, leeks, garlic, cucumber, celery and bananas, which feed and encourage the growth of probiotics in the gut, could also help. Don’t forget, calcium is found in water – especially in hard water areas and some bottled waters.
Note : It’s recommended that your daily calcium intake doesn’t exceed more than 2,000 to 2,500 mg. A higher intake may interfere with the absorption of other minerals, such as iron, and could lead to other problems.
Many nutritionists argue that eating too many protein foods can increase your risk of osteoporosis. This is because protein foods form acids which your body neutralizes with alkaline minerals, including calcium from your bones. The more protein you eat, the more calcium you need. Salt is also thought to leech calcium from your bones. So don’t overdo protein foods, or salt. Eat plenty of alkaline foods, for example fruit and vegetables, natural yogurt, brazil nut seeds and almonds.
Drinking more than three to four cups of coffee daily could have a negative impact on your bone health. Studies suggest that a daily intake of 300 mg of caffeine can lead to loss of calcium and magnesium in the urine. The average cup of instant or percolated coffee contains around 75 mg of caffeine. A mug contains around 100 mg – an espresso could have as much as 150 mg.
Avoid fizzy drinks, such as cola and lemonade, as they contain phosphates, which appears to block the absorption of calcium and may also trigger the release of calcium from the bones. Try to drink plain water instead.
It’s always best to try to obtain essential vitamins and minerals from your diet, but if you’re concerned that you don’t eat enough calcium- rich foods, consider taking a calcium supplement. Avoid supplements containing calcium carbonate, as they can increase your chances of developing kidney stones. Opt instead for that containing calcium citrate, which is more easily absorbed. Note: Don’t exceed 2, 500 mg, as it could increase your risk of developing kidney stones and interfere with your absorption of minerals such as iron.
Note: Don’t exceed 2, 500 mg, as it could increase your risk of developing kidney stones and interfere with your absorption of minerals such as iron.
Osteoporosis has been dubbed the silent disease’ because most people with the condition aren’t aware they have it. So being aware of the risk factors is important. The impact of the menopause and diet on the bones has already been covered – other risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Being female (it affects one in three women).
- Early, or premature menopause.
- Being small boned, or underweight.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- A family history of osteoporosis.
- Being over 65.
- Some medications, such as corticosteroids, anti-epileptic drugs and tranquilisers, may increase your risk.
If you’re concerned that you may be at risk, or if you break a bone after the menopause, it’s advisable to ask your GP if you can have a DE)(A (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan to check your bone density. An obvious sign of bone loss is a decrease in your height.
Reaching menopausal age does not mean the end of physical activity. But it means exercise is needed more than ever,
Even if you’ve never formally exercised. It’s never too late to start…nor is it too late to reap the benefits. The key is to start slowly and do things you enjoy.
You have just to start and once you get going some of the negative effects on your health of not having exercised regularly can be reversed.
Fitness gives your body the conditioning it needs and works hand in hand with a healthy diet. It also helps prevent and reduce many health issues like heart diseases. osteoporosis. psychological problems. etc.
Exercise allows you to control your body and emotions by using your internal resources. Each time you exercise, your adrenal glands are stimulated to convert the male hormone and rostenedione into estrogen.
Exercise during menopause is your insurance to a healthy youthful midlife
- Your cells receive more oxygen, which improves blood circulation, creates energy, and improves your ability to handle stress.
- Exercise can help you deal with depression and improve your sense of well – being
- Constipation may decrease or disappear.
- You sleep better.
- You have an easier time controlling your weight, because regular exercise helps to bum calories, diminish your appetite, and speed your body’s metabolism.
- Your bones become stronger, helping prevent osteoporosis.
- Your risk of heart disease declines.
- Lung function and endurance improve.
- Joint stiffness, arthritis, and low-back pain lessen.
- Aerobics and dancing
- Resistance exercises (build your bone)
walking is a great workout for your heart. This is crucial because after menopause your risk of heart disease is now equal to a man. Walking is also a weight-bearing exercise, which helps keep your bones healthy. Don’t use hand-held or ankle weights: they put stress on your joints and can cause more harm than good Instead. to walk most effectively
- Take faster, not bigger strides
- Bend your arms at the elbow make gentle fists with your hands, and focus on driving your elbows back behind you. Concentrate on striking with your Your heel while walking.
Walking is a great social activity, stroll along with family, friends or neighbors. Having someone counting on you to exercise with her daily is a great motivator. Walking is an aerobic activity that requires only a good pair of walking shoes, and a place to do it if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can use a treadmill. or go to a gym or an indoor mall. Walking incorporates itself in your way of life easily
Swimming is another great aerobic exercise for older women who aren’t used to physical activity. Swimming is especially beneficial to people suffering from joint or arthritic pain. Even if you don’t know how to swim, you can join a water aerobics class. Don’t let excuses stop you from living your life to the full.
Belly dance is incredibly good for the joints and bones and offers an amazing feel good factor. It strengthens the hip and leg joints and stretches and strengthens the muscles, especially those in the lower back. Belly dancers come in all shapes and sizes and most women report that it helps improve their confidence on many levels.
During aerobic activity, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. You’ll notice your body’s responses quickly. You’ll breathe faster and more deeply. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. Your small blood vessels (capillaries) will widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your body will even release endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being.
While all forms of exercise are beneficial during menopause or pre menopause, resistance training is the best to engage if you want to build bone mass Now, you don’t have to be a super athlete or a prize body builder to benefit from strength training.
You should however lift weights to help build muscle, which will in turn help delay or prevent bone loss all together A woman experiencing bone loss will have decreased bone density in the hips, spine, and wrists Weight bearing exercises will help to increase bone density or prevent the loss of bone in these areas It is important to perform resistance exercises under supervision of a professional trainer.
Here are some simple and easy exercises flexible and improve joint stiffness. that wull help your body to be
warning: Never ignore the symptoms of possible over exercise, which could mean that you are having a heart attack or some other medical emergency Stop exercising immediately if you have any of these symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Severe shortness of breath
- Faintness or fainting
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Pain in your neck, jaw, or down your left arm
- Palpitations (a disturbing feeling that your heart is beating)
Use the following checklists to help you stay healthy at 45+. The checklists help answer your questions about what daily steps you can take for good health , whether you need medicines to prevent disease, and which screening tests you need and when to get them
Daily steps for good health
- Be physically active : if you are not already physically active, start now-, start small and work up to 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Walking, swimming, dancing and bicycling are just a few examples of moderate physical activity.
- Eat a healthy diet : focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat free or low-fat milk and milk products. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
- Stay at a healthy weight : balance the calories you take in from food and drink, with the calories you bum off by your activities check with your doctor if you start or lose weight.
Should you take preventive medicines ?
- Aspirin ask your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent stroke.
- Immunization : you need a flu shot every year. You can prevent other serious diseases, such as pneumonia, by being vaccinated talk to your doctor about the vaccines your need and when to get them.
- Hormone replacement therapy : Do not use estrogen for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or other diseases.
- Breast cancer have a mammogram every one or two years.
- Cervical cancer .: have a Pap smear every one to three years if you have ever been sexually active. If you are older than 65 and recent Pap smears before you turned 65 were normal, you don’t need a Pap smear.
- Depression : your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt down, sad, or hopeless over the last 2 weeks or have little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.
- Diabetes : have a blood test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure . if you are overweight or have family history of diabetes.
- High blood pressure : have your blood pressure checked at least every 6 months. High blood pressure is 130/90 or higher.
- High cholesterol : have your cholesterol checked regularly.
- obesity have your body mass index(BMI)calculated to screen for obesity. (BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight). You can find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the national heart, lung, and blood institute at: http://www.nhlbisupbort.com/bmi
- osteoporosis (bone thinning) : have a bone density test at age 65, to screen for osteoporosis. If you are younger than 65, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested . You may need to have this test again after 2 or more years.
- Sexually transmitted infections : talk to your doctor about being tested for sexually transmitted infections
Note on other conditions : everybody is different Always feel free to ask your doctor or nurse about being checked for any condition, not just the ones above. if you are worried about diseases such as glaucoma or skin cancer, for example, ask your doctor about them And always tell your doctor about any changes in your health including your vision and hearing.
Take this form to your doctor’s office You can use it to keep track of the date and results of your last screening tests, when you should have the test next, and questions you have for your next doctor visit.
It would be helpful to know if you have any risk factors for the development of osteoporosis. To help with this, you may wish to answer the following questions and discuss them with your doctor.
- A bone density test of your wrist, hip or spine will be helpful to determine this risk more accurately.
- The value of ultrasound in predicting future risk of osteoporotic fractures is still unproven and more research is required before it can be recommended.
- x-rays may show an existing osteoporotic fracture but do not accurately measure bone density.
As women age, they will experience changes to their vagina and urinary system that are largely due to decreasing levels of the hormone estrogen. The changes – which may cause dryness, irritation, itching and pain with intercourse – are known as vaginal atrophy and affect up to 40% of postmenopausal women. So don’t be embarrassed about raising these issues with your doctor! … Read more