So, your symptoms of menopause are finally winding down, maybe after several long years of discomfort. The average women’s menopausal symptoms, from beginning to end, last over 7 years. That’s a long time to be dealing with mood changes, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, and more.
After all that, do you get a break now? For many, there is relief from the typical menopause-related symptoms, but the hormonal changes of menopause have left you with a greater risk of developing certain health conditions. Estrogen, especially, has a protective role in our bodies. It affects nearly every organ system, so we definitely notice when our body is no longer making it in the same quantities as it once was.
In this stage of life, it’s important to be aware of some health issues that are linked to post-menopause:
Estrogen helps maintain healthy blood vessels and a healthy balance of good versus bad cholesterol. After menopause, loss of estrogen and blood pressures changes can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Loss of estrogen and loss of collagen are responsible for thinning bones after menopause. By age 60, many women have lost nearly twenty five percent of their bone density, putting them at risk for bone fractures. There are no symptoms and most people don’t know they have osteoporosis until they suffer a fracture.
Weakening pelvic muscles and thinning in the lining of the urethra contribute to post-menopausal incontinence. Kegel exercises and non-invasive treatments (offered by gynecologists) can often help.
Changing hormones can cause a dry mouth and related oral health concerns. Cavities, tooth decay, and sensitive gums are more common due to low levels of estrogen.
Many women experience mood changes, depression, and anxiety starting with perimenopause and often lasting until after menopause.
DRY SKIN AND FRAGILE HAIR
The drop in estrogen happens in lock-step with a drop in collagen. Lower collagen levels result in thinner dermal and epidermal skin tissues and skin cells that are less able to hold moisture. The quality and health of our skin declines and since our hair follicles are rooted in our dermis, our hair health also declines.
Vaginal dryness, thinning of vaginal tissues, and loss of vaginal tissue elasticity puts you at risk for infections and can disrupt your sex life. Thinning tissues and weakening pelvic muscles can also make intercourse very uncomfortable.
STAYING HEALTHY AFTER MENOPAUSE
While you can’t avoid menopause, certain lifestyle choices can keep you be healthier before, during, and after menopause.
- Some hot flashers can be helped with a change in diet — Starchy and sugary foods push up our glucose levels. High levels of glucose trigger insulin release which then triggers cortisol release. Without estrogen to balance the cortisol, we have the same hot flash that we experience with a rush of adrenaline. Try a low starch, low sugary, healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals, lean protein, and fiber can help support your body through its changes and protect it after.
- Activity — Staying active is also key. Thirty minutes of activity most days keeps your heart, circulatory system, muscles, and bones strong. It also helps with depression, anxiety, and mood swings. You don’t need to join a gym or make this activity elaborate. Find a you tube exercise video that you can follow along with each day or pick your favorite programme and ride the stationary bike while watching (makes it much easier and the time flies).
- Supplement with Marine Collagen – Skin, hair, joints, bones and nails can all be significantly helped after menopause when supplementing with a high-quality marine collagen. Collagen is the primary protein in most of our tissues and we experience a significant loss of collagen after menopause. Replenishing collagen has a very positive impact on skin health and appearance, hair health and the strength of our nails. It also relieves joint pain and builds bone density.
- Weight — Many women gain weight after menopause. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, and many other health conditions. It might be difficult to lose weight but make sure that you exercise so that you get the health benefits of physical activities even if the weight doesn’t come off.
- Quit Smoking — If you smoke, this is a great time to quit. Smoking affects every one of our body systems. It contributes to heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and many other health issues. It’s a good idea not to stack this on top of the challenges of menopause.
- Stress Management — The physical and emotional changes of menopause take a toll. Learning to manage your response to stress can keep you healthier and happier. Techniques like mindfulness meditation, biofeedback, and yoga can change how your body and mind respond to the changes you’re going through.
- Share Your Experiences – There are Facebook groups that share menopause experiences and personal solutions which can be quite helpful. Sometimes there are valuable insights shared on these pages that can make you feel less alone and provide some constructive direction.
Managing your symptoms can help you enjoy these years to the fullest.