Menopause marks an important milestone in woman’s reproductive life as it marks the end of periods or when the ova in ovary get over and women stop menstruating. This phase is marked by huge hormonal changes which will bring about secondary turmoil in woman’s body and commonly the symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, mood swings and inability to sleep.
Though most women experience menopause by the age of 52, certain genetics, underlying conditions or pelvic or ovarian damage may cause sudden menopause earlier in life. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and Co-Founder of Indira IVF, shared, “During this time, the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis rises. This can be made easier by staying healthy and paying attention to unpleasant symptoms. It can be an excellent time to start or continue making healthy lifestyle adjustments.”
He highlighted five health tips that may help women going through menopause:
1. Using a monthly calendar can assist women in determining what is normal and what is abnormal in their menstrual cycle. If indicators of irregular bleeding patterns appear, women should seek medical help straight soon.
2. Since a woman’s risk of osteoporosis climbs during menopause, one of the most important food for menopausal women is dietary calcium to keep bones strong.
3. Women’s midlife weight increase appears to be largely due to age and lifestyle, however the years leading up to menopause are linked to abdominal fat growth if they don’t pay attention to food and exercise and this kind of fat has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. So, menopausal women should keep a check on their weight with proper diet and adequate exercise.
4. A woman can no longer become pregnant naturally after menopause since she no longer makes eggs. In case a woman desires to be pregnant during the time of approaching menopause, they might have to take aid of assisted reproductive technology methods live IVF, ICSI and IUI. Although eggs succumb to the biological clock, pregnancy with a donor egg is still feasible.
5. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopausal signs. Keeping a diary can aid in the identification of triggers. Stress, coffee, hot weather, and alcohol are all significant triggers for many women. When hot flashes begin, one may be able to chill down by taking slow, deep breaths. If the hot flashes are extremely severe, one should see their doctor.
Dr Kshitiz Murdia added, “Since females have different health demands than males, examinations for numerous disorders are necessary to assist them maintain their general health at any age. Menopause is not a sickness that requires medical attention. However, taking appointments with doctors to discuss about it can ease many uncomfortable symptoms.”
Echoing the same, Dr Sujit Ash, Consultant, Gynecology and Obstetrics, at Khar’s PD Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, revealed, “Menopause care means taking care of your mind and body throughout the transition time. Adopting timely interventions with lifestyle modification, a healthier diet, exercising, etc. can mitigate perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.”
He listed certain tips to help the transition into this new phase of life:
1. Diet and habits – Eat a healthy diet, low in fat, and high in fiber, with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods. Drinking sufficient water can help decrease hormonal bloating and replenish dry skin and tissue, and provide relief in hot flashes and night sweats. Quit using tobacco products and cut down on alcohol as these can worsen your symptoms. Consider nutritional supplements for menopause or for preventing the associated health risks. It might be recommended for you to start Calcium and Vitamin D to strengthen your bones. The doses and frequency depend on your requirement and general health.
2. Exercise – Women tend to lose muscle mass and gain abdominal fat around menopause. Learn what your healthy weight is, and try to stay there. Exercise not only helps to improve your mood by releasing endorphins but also helps raise HDL cholesterol levels-the “good” cholesterol, benefits the heart and bones, and builds better immunity. Aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming, biking, and dancing, along with yoga, help prevent problems like chronic back pain, muscle stiffness, and poor circulation. Weights/Strength training exercises help increase bone mass thus preventing osteoporosis and fractures.
3. Sex – Pain during sex is one of the challenging aspects of menopause because it can impact sexual pleasures and self-esteem. Many women find relief from water-based lubricants or estrogen vaginal cream. Also, women who still have sporadic periods during perimenopause should consider some form of birth control.
4. Visiting a doctor – Though not recommended for all women, Hormone Therapy (HT) can be considered for a selected few for decreasing hot flashes and sweating, fewer mood swings, and preventing bone fractures. Continue routine health check-ups including screenings such as monthly self-breast exams, annual doctor-administered breast exams, mammogram and /or ultrasounds, bone density scans, colonoscopy exams periodically, and periodic pap smears and pelvic exams.
5. Stay connected with friends/family – Mood swings and emotional ups and downs are common during menopause. Reaching out and connecting with friends and family can make the transition more bearable.
Menopause is an ideal time to begin or reinforce healthy changes in your life. Set realistic, achievable goals and stay motivated.