Your period, or more specifically your missed period, isn’t the only thing that changes after menopause. Hormone levels that keep your menstrual cycle regular have additional functions in the body. Without the protective effects of these hormones, especially estrogen, women face new health challenges. In addition, other age-related changes such as a slower metabolism may increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and other diseases.
What Is Postmenopause?
There are several health complications associated with post menopause. To stay healthy in this new phase of life, it’s important to be aware of these conditions and find ways to lower your risk.
Menopause is a natural phase in the human body life of a woman. It occurs in middle age when your body stops ovulating, causing you to stop having monthly menstrual cycles.
This change occurs due to changes in hormones in your body. Menopause is considered a three-stage process:
- Perimenopause refers to the 8-10 years before menopause when your ovaries slowly produce less estrogen.
- Menopause refers to the time when your menstrual period lasts for missing at least one period a year.
- Post menopause is the stage of life after you have not had a period for 12 or months.
The median age of menopause for women is 51 years. You can experience menopause anytime in your 40s, 50s, or even 60s. When you go through this change, your body is unique. Menopause is usually a very normal part of a woman’s life. Premature menopause can occur due to surgery such as a hysterectomy or other factors.
After menopause, your hormone levels remain consistently low. You can no longer conceive and no longer have monthly menstrual cycles. Sometimes after menopause, you may be at higher risk of the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Depression and other mental illnesses
- Changes in vaginal health
- Vaginal Dryness
A healthy lifestyle and regular visits to the doctor will help you manage your risk factors for these conditions. Major health problems of menopausal women include vasomotor symptoms, urogenital atrophy, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, psychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, and sexual problems. However, it has been difficult to distinguish between symptoms resulting from loss of ovarian function and those of aging or midlife socio-environmental stress.
Many symptoms are associated with a postmenopausal syndrome such as hot urine, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, dry vagina, difficulty concentrating, mental confusion, stress urinary incontinence, urge incontinence, osteoporotic symptoms, depression, headache, vasomotor symptoms, insomnia, etc.
Vasomotor symptoms affect up to 75% of perimenopausal women. Symptoms can last up to 1 to 2 years after menopause in most women but can last 10 years or more in others. Hot flashes are the number one reason women seek help during menopause. In addition to disrupting women’s work and daily activities, hot flashes also disrupt sleep
Many women report difficulty concentrating and emotional lability during the transition to menopause. Treatment of vasomotor symptoms should improve these cognitive and mood symptoms if they are secondary to sleep disturbances and resulting daytime sleepiness.
The incidence of thyroid disease increases as women age; therefore, thyroid function tests should be performed when vasomotor symptoms are atypical or refractory to therapy.
Systemic estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment available for vasomotor symptoms and associated sleep disturbances. Healthy premenopausal women who suffer from annoying hot flashes but still have their menses can benefit from oral contraceptives. Very low-dose estrogen therapy is also effective in treating hot flashes in many women. Low-dose oral esterified and conjugated estrogens or transdermal estradiol (0 or 0.25 mg per week) is often effective with minimal side effects and endometrial stimulation. Progestin therapy should be given concomitantly if a woman has not had a hysterectomy, although, with low-dose estrogen therapy, intermittent progestin therapy may be an option. If estrogen is contraindicated, other options are available. Progestin monotherapy is an option for some women. Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) (20 mg/day) and megestrol acetate (20 mg twice daily) effectively treat vasomotor symptoms.
Various drugs that alter central neurotransmitter pathways are also effective. Agents that decrease central noradrenergic tone, such as clonidine, relieve hot flashes. Genitourinary atrophy causes vaginal dryness and itching, dyspareunia, dysuria, and urinary urgency. These common problems in menopausal women respond well to therapy.
Systemic estrogen therapy is effective in relieving vaginal dryness, dyspareunia, and urinary tract symptoms. Another option is topical application. As systemic absorption is low, stimulation of the endometrium is minimal.
Low-dose estrogen cream (0.5 g) is effective when used only 1 to 3 times per week. One estradiol vaginal tablet (25 μg ) twice a week, which may be less messy and easier to apply than estrogen cream.
Women using vaginal estrogen therapy should report any vaginal bleeding, and this bleeding should be carefully investigated will. Systemic progestin therapy is generally not prescribed for women using low-dose vaginal estrogen.
Health Risks for Postmenopausal Women
While each woman faces unique risks based on genetics and other factors, it’s a good idea to think about how you can protect yourself against these common health issues that can increase your risk after menopause.
1) Heart Disease
Women often consider breast cancer their biggest threat, but the biggest threat they face after menopause is heart disease. Nearly one-third of women develop cardiovascular disease, says various research studies. Heart attack rates in women begin to rise about a decade after menopause.
A major reason is estrogen helps keep blood vessels flexible, allowing them to contract and expand to accommodate blood flow. Once Estrogen decreases, this benefit is lost. Along with other changes such as increased blood pressure, which can thicken the walls of the arteries, women’s hearts suddenly become vulnerable.
Studies examining the physical, biological, psychological, and social changes experienced by women in midlife have found that women with more premenopausal hot flashes also appeared to have a higher risk of heart disease.
You Can Reduce Risk Factors for Heart Disease
You can’t control your family history, which affects your risk, but you can lower your overall risk by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. These include eating a diet high in vegetables and low in red meat and sugar, exercising at least 150 minutes a week, and quitting smoking.
Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become thinner, and weaker and break more easily. Before menopause, women’s bones are protected by estrogen, but rapid bone loss occurs in the year before the last menstrual period and about three years after.
Experts say that since your period is less predictable, you might want to talk to your doctor to find out what you can do to try to keep your bones healthy.
Osteoporosis Symptoms Can Be Invisible
You may not even notice that your bones are weakening because osteoporosis may not cause any symptoms for decades.
A broken bone can be the first sign of the disease. For this reason, women over 65 are strongly recommended to undergo the test known as DXA or DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry), which measures bone density in the spine and hips.
How to Improve Bone Health in Midlife
To keep your bones strong, make sure you do weight-bearing exercise like brisk walking or Jogging, in your routine, because it allows your bones to work against gravity to get stronger. Don’t smoke either – it’s been linked to an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
Finally, eat a healthy diet with foods rich in vitamin D (orange juice, cereal, and milk)—or 15 minutes of sun exposure multiple days a week—and calcium (green, leafy vegetables, dairy, and canned fish like salmon and sardines). Make sure you have enough calcium and vitamin D.
3) Weight Gain
Menopause has a significant impact on a woman’s metabolism. According to a lot of research, menopause causes your body to gain fat and lose lean tissue from about two years before your last menstrual period to two years after your postmenopausal period.
Belly Fat During Menopause Is More Than a Cosmetic Problem
Extra weight, especially in the abdominal area, is dangerous. Experts say it may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Even menopause itself is linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of health conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. That increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Why Fat Migrates to the Middle of a Woman’s Waist
Part of the reason for this increased risk of belly fat is the loss of estrogen, which shifts fat from the hips to the midsection. Premenopausal women who experience trouble sleeping, night sweats, and mood problems may find that these symptoms interfere with a healthy diet or exercise.
Reducing calories may help counteract weight gain after menopause. Other helpful tips include adding more vigorous exercise to your routine, eating your largest meal at lunchtime, avoiding snacking too often, and engaging in stress-reducing activities like mindfulness meditation or yoga to eliminate the need for that pint of energy that ice cream does soften the mood.
4) Urinary Tract Infection
After menopause, a drop in estrogen levels can cause vaginal tissue to become thinner and drier. This can facilitate the growth of bacteria, which can eventually lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
While a woman’s risk of UTI depends on individual factors, such as overall general health, the chances of urinary tract infections generally increase with age. For women over 65, the rate is about twice that for women of any age
To reduce the risk of UTIs, women are recommended to follow these steps:
- Urinate when you feel the need and try to avoid going more than 3 or 4 hours without urinating. (The longer urine stays in the bladder; the more bacteria can grow.)
- Be sure to wipe from front to back.
- Drink plenty of fluids, preferably at least six to eight glasses of water a day.
- Urine before and after sex.
- Avoid using douches or spray deodorants for feminine hygiene.
- Choose breathable cotton underwear and avoid tight-fitting trousers.
5) Urinary Incontinence
Bladder control difficulties can begin during perimenopause and last for years. According to several studies, about half of postmenopausal women suffer from urinary incontinence. The most common form is stress urinary incontinence, in which urinary incontinence is caused by coughing, sneezing, or physical activity. Urge incontinence occurs when urination is accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom immediately. Many women have a mix of both.
Why Your Risk of Urinary Incontinence May Increase and What You Can Do About It
The tissues of the bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the bladder) contain receptors for estrogen and progesterone and are thickened by these hormones. After menopause, these hormone levels drop, and the tissue becomes thinner and weaker. Also, as we age, the muscles around the pelvis can lose elasticity, a process known as “pelvic relaxation.”
To prevent urinary incontinence, void your bubble as many times as possible. Try to do Kegel exercises, which tense and relax your pelvic floor muscles. The key to proper Kegel exercises is to work the subtle muscles that control urine flow, not the glutes. Hold each contraction for two to three seconds and build up to five sets of 10 reps for days.
For some women, menopause symptoms no longer appear after post menopause. Other women continue to experience some symptoms.
- You may experience hot flashes for a year or two after menopause.
- You may experience mood changes and depression before, during, and after menopause. Changes in your mental health should be discussed with your doctor.
- You can also suffer from vaginal dryness, which can affect your sexual health and cause infections. Using water-soluble lubricants can help make intercourse more comfortable. Discuss these changes with your doctor to determine if you need treatment.
Make sure to see your doctor once you are postmenopausal. These check-ups with your doctor can help you prevent problems that can develop after menopause.
Tests and exams to expect after menopause include:
- Pelvic exams
- Pap smear, probably every three years
- Other gynaecological examinations
- Other cancer screening
- Osteoporosis tests, such as b. Bone density measurements
If you are postmenopausal and have vaginal bleeding, consult your doctor. This can be a sign of a serious health condition.