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Staying Healthy at Menopause and Beyond


Menopause is an ideal time to begin or reinforce healthy changes in your life. Here are nine areas of your health that might need attention:

  1. Keeping a menstrual calendar can help women determine what’s normal or abnormal (we offer a free menstrual calendar form). Women should consult a healthcare provider right away if signs of abnormal bleeding patterns occur.

  2. Osteoporosis is a major health risk to women after menopause, as age-related bone loss speeds up in the years surrounding menopause. Bone-strengthening exercise can help. The Fracture Risk Assessment tool called FRAX calculates a woman’s 10-year probability of a major osteoporotic fracture (clinical spine, forearm, hip, or shoulder). Postmenopausal women over age 40 can calculate their own risk at the FRAX website.

  3. Midlife weight gain in women seems to be mostly related to aging and lifestyle, but the years around menopause are associated with fat gain in the abdomen if women aren’t attentive to diet and exercise. Abdominal fat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Find out if you're officially overweight.

  4. Treatment of sleep disturbances should first focus on improving sleep routine with good sleep hygiene, including a regular sleep schedule, avoiding heavy evening meals, adjusting levels of light, noise, and temperature in the bedroom, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.

  5. Women at increased risk for hormonal headaches and migraines during perimenopause are those who have already had a history of headaches around menstrual periods or when taking oral contraceptives. Hormonal headaches typically stop when menopause is reached and hormone levels are consistently low.

  6. Urinary incontinence, which is common during menopause and beyond, is often improved with pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegel exercises). These involve repeated contraction and relaxation of the muscles that control urine flow, strengthening them so they can better support the bladder. The muscles are contracted to a count of three and then relaxed. Recommended frequency is 10 exercises, five times each day. Bonus: Kegels can improve your sex life, too.

  7. Skin-healthy habits at midlife include: avoiding smoking, stress, and overexposure to sunlight; adequate exercise and sleep; drinking plenty of water; and avoiding hot, soapy showers and baths (which dry out the skin).

  8. Practicing good oral hygiene is extremely important. Brushing and flossing daily, regular dental checkups, and professional dental cleaning twice yearly are all recommended. Gum disease increases risk for heart disease, and tooth loss can be a sign of underlying bone disease, including osteoporosis.

  9. While some risk factors cannot be changed, others can be controlled or modified to create a more heart-healthy lifestyle by following these modifications:
  • Don’t smoke
  • Control blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol
  • Control triglycerides
  • Prevent diabetes
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain healthy weight or lose weight if overweight
  • Improve nutrition
  • Reduce stress
 
 The Menopause Guidebook
Available in Print, Kindle, and iBook editions.
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