Menopause can be a complex biological process that affects more than your reproductive organs. If you are approaching or have gone through menopause, you need to make lifestyle changes to improve your reproductive and overall health. Read on to learn more about menopause treatment.
Focus On Lifestyle
Estrogen has some protective benefits on the heart. As your estrogen levels decline, you should focus more on ways you can protect your heart through lifestyle changes. In addition to decreasing chronic disease risk factors that contribute to heart disease, such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, you should work on incorporating good fats into your diet. Monounsaturated fats and omega-3's are fats with heart-healthy benefits.
Additionally, bone loss in post-menopausal women is a concern. Before you reach menopause, you should ensure you have adequate calcium and vitamin D in your diet to keep your bones strong. If you have never participated in weight bearing exercises, now is the time to start. Light resistance training two to three days per week can help you maintain or increase your bone density, in combination with adequate nutrient intake.
You may not want estrogen therapy for menopausal symptoms or are not a candidate due to certain risk factors, such as having a high blood clot or stroke risk. Consider asking your doctor if natural phytoestrogens or herbal supplements are a good option. Although they may behave like estrogen in your body, they are typically not as potent as estrogen therapy and can help ease your symptoms. Some common supplements with estrogen-like effects are black cohosh, which is commonly used to help reduce or eliminate hot flashes.
Evening primrose oil is another herbal supplement that may have benefits. In addition to being potentially helpful for hot flashes, evening primrose oil may help pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstruation problems. Many women experience worsening of PMS as they approach menopause and their periods can become heavier and more irregular. Evening primrose oil may also help strengthen your bones and reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Misconceptions about menopause can lead you to make choices that can adversely affect your health and/or lifestyle. For example, menopause is generally defined as an absence of a menstrual period for one year. However, this is not definitive. To be sure, you will need to speak with your doctor to confirm menopause.
There is no specific age when a woman cannot become pregnant naturally. Women in their 50's and 60's can have unplanned pregnancies, as long as they have viable eggs. If you are not trying to become pregnant, you should continue to use some form of birth control, preferably a barrier method, even if you have not had a period in a year. The combination of irregular periods and more eggs being released can make perimenopause an unpredictable time.
Additionally, going through menopause does not mean you should stop gynecological exams. If you still have any part of your reproductive organs, you will need examinations. You typically do not need gynecological exams as frequently. If you had a complete hysterectomy, check with your gynecologist to determine the best intervals to have other cancer screenings. Cancers of the vulva or vagina remain a possibility.
Menopausal symptoms are only one health concern when you are approaching menopause. Both perimenopausal and post-menopausal women may have additional health concerns that are important for their overall health.