Every woman I know seems to be anxious to get through menopause. Our life as a woman would be much easier. We will no longer have to deal with monthly periods and all of the associated issues. We think it will be great – that is until we get there.
From a personal view point, I think it has been a good thing. One of the first things that popped into my mind was “Yeah, I can wear colored panties now.” Any woman reading this will understand that statement. Although that was something good, there are also some things about menopause which are not so good.
The important factor regarding any health issue is prevention over correction. According to my gynecologist, there are several things a woman can expect post-menopause. Some can lead to serious issues if they are not properly addressed.
The first thing a woman will notice is hot flashes and night sweats. I know a number of women (myself included) who have literally had to get up in the middle of the night and change clothes and the bed linens because of night sweats. I don’t believe I have produced that much sweat while doing strenuous yard or house work. I found myself wondering if this was a good tradeoff. When hot flashes start occurring you never know how to dress. The good thing about this is, I live in Oklahoma and the weather here is so strange and fickle it was never noticed if I was dressed in sleeveless tops when everyone else had on a sweater. I would just say I wasn’t sure how to dress for the day because of the weather.
Other noticeable issues are weight gain and excessively dry skin. Not every woman will have weight gain, and they are the fortunate ones. Weight gain will probably be gradual, and then one day you realize none of your clothes fit anymore even though you have not changed your eating habits. You may even tell yourself the clothes dryer caused them to shrink. I wish. Of course with dry skin comes more wrinkles. It is common knowledge, as person gets older (man or woman) they will begin to notice their skin seems to be much dryer, which is due to less elasticity in your skin. For women it seems to be more pronounced.
There are a couple of issues which are not quite as noticeable outwardly, but the woman will notice. One big problem for many women is the lack of enjoyment during sexual intercourse. Some think they lack desire as well, but actually the two are connected. Yeast infections can also be quite problematic. Osteoporosis can worsen after menopause as well.
Now that you know about some of the health issues of menopausal women, you are probably wondering what to do about it. I have an incredible gynecologist who answered these questions for me a few years ago.
It is pretty basic actually. I know most of you have heard the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and that could not be more true when it comes to your health. Everything about health begins with a balanced diet and exercise. I know, you wanted to hear about some magical pill or potion which would do the work for you. Unfortunately there isn’t one. All of the changes occurring post-menopause are due to the lack of the female hormone estrogen.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be controlled with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Do not be afraid to do this. I was concerned about it too because I heard a lot of stories saying it could cause cancer. I asked my doctor, and he said the hormones used today are safe. I have been on HRT for almost six years and have had no issues. The hot flashes and night sweats have all but disappeared. Hormone therapy is not a mandatory thing. If you do not really mind the hot flashes and night sweats, then do not take the therapy.
The issue of controlling your weight post-menopause is a little more challenging simply because of the age factor. As we get older our nutritional requirements begin to change. We may not need as much of one thing, but will need more of another. In order to maintain bone health older women need more calcium and Vitamin D than younger women. If you have ever been to a Weight Watchers meeting you will have heard this. Try to be prepared for being older by doing the right things when you are younger. After my 50th birthday my doctor recommended I have a bone density test. My results seemed to surprise the doctor. For women my age (if I remember correctly) the normal bone density range was between .05-1.00. Mine was 2.5. No need supplements for this girl. This is because I have always been a milk drinker. I have at least two or three glasses of milk per day. The benefit of drinking milk all my life is I will most likely not be a victim of osteoporosis.
When it comes to the issue of dry skin, caring for your skin post-menopause is not much different than before. You may need to use more moisturizer and sun block. It also would not be a bad idea to make sure you moisturize from within by drinking an adequate amount of water.
The one thing women have difficulty talking about is their sex life. Your sex life may have been phenomenal pre-menopause. You may wonder why you do not want to have sex as often. It is most likely because it is uncomfortable for you now. When there is a decrease in estrogen your vaginal walls get thinner and less moist. This can cause intercourse to be uncomfortable, even painful. There is a simple remedy for this problem. There are numerous over-the-counter, water-based creams available to alleviate the dryness. My gynecologist even suggested inserting the hormone pill vaginally. Kind of weird, but who knows maybe it works. The dryness can also cause more frequent yeast infections. The monthly periods cleanse and when the periods cease so does the cleansing. A very important factor here is to discuss your problems with your partner. If they do not know, they cannot understand.
Is menopause a good thing? Yes it can be. As with anything else, being prepared for it is better than waiting until problems crop up. You can do that by making a habit of eating healthy, exercising and regular visits to your gynecologist. Your gynecologists can perform tests which will indicate pre-menopausal conditions and you can begin taking care of issues early on.