Whether you’re approaching “The Change” or are experiencing it first-hand, you might have heard rumors about hot flashes, bad sex and other lousy symptoms. Today, we’re going to clear up these misconceptions and explain how you can make the most of menopause.
Myth #1: Hormone Replacements Are Dangerous
Temporary use of low-dose hormone replacement is safe for the majority of women. You can use hormone replacement therapy to help with hot flashes, lack of energy, decreased libido and vaginal dryness. Therapy could even reduce your risk for osteoporosis or heart disease, especially if you start menopause before age 45.
However, some women, such as women with a history of breast cancer or stroke, should avoid hormone replacement. Talk to your doctor about possible risks and benefits so you can decide if hormone replacement is right for you.
Myth #2: You Gain Weight Going Through Menopause
Although menopause changes where you may gain weight (your abdomen instead of your breasts, for instance), aging is the real culprit behind middle-aged weight gain. All people are likely to gain fat as they age due to decreased muscle mass, less physical activity and poor sleep.
To combat weight gain, exercise more often. Include activities that help you maintain muscle mass, such as lifting weights. You should also change up your diet by eating fewer calories and more fruits and vegetables.
Myth #3: Menopause Ruins Sex
Changes in hormones can affect your libido and lead to changes in your vagina. However, not all women experience these problems. Many women enjoy sex more after menopause because they don’t have to worry about becoming pregnant and, without children around, have more time to enjoy their partners.
If you are experiencing problems with sex due to menopause symptoms, don’t be shy; talk to your physician. Certain lubricants, creams or other treatments can help you experience more sexual satisfaction. With no period to worry about, you may find that sex in your fifties is the best sex you’ve ever had.
Myth #4: I Don’t Need Contraception After Menopause
While it’s true you can’t get pregnant after menopause, that doesn’t mean you don’t need contraception. Sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV, are on the rise in people over 50. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors have the same risk of getting HIV as young people—but are more likely to be diagnosed later when medicines can’t help.
Feel free to throw those birth control pills away, but always use a condom to protect yourself from syphilis, HIV and other diseases.
Myth #5: I Got My Period Young So I’ll Start Menopause Early
Though this myth sounds like it makes sense, it’s simply untrue. There’s no set number of periods to get through before you reach menopause. Even if you started your period at age 11, you’ll likely start menopause at around age 52 like the average woman.
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Menopause can interfere with your lifestyle. It can slow you down due to lack of sleep, hot flashes, stress etc. Let’s face it —it’s a challenge to stay motivated when your body is going through “the change.” As difficult as it may seem, though, taking care of yourself should be a top priority when you reach menopause.
Once you go through menopause your risk for certain health conditions increases. For instance, menopause increases your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and urinary incontinence. Fortunately, making exercise part of your daily lifestyle can improve your health, and lower your risk for most types of health problems associated with menopause. Plus, exercise, in general, is good for not only your health, but mental health, too.
Here are five benefits of exercising during menopause.
1. Improve bone health
Women who have reached menopause are at higher risk for osteoporosis, or bone loss. Exercise helps enhance and maintain bone density and lowers your risk for fractures. Ask your gynecologist about fitness programs ideal for women who want to prevent osteoporosis.
Combine aerobic exercise with strength training for the best results. For example, do sets of weight training exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges, followed by 30 minutes of brisk walking. Over time, your muscles and bones will strengthen, and your risk for osteoporosis will become lower.
2. Improve heart health
Declining estrogen levels can affect blood vessel health, and increase your risk for heart disease. But aerobic exercise can improve blood flow and circulation, as well as blood vessel health. Engage in 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three days per week to lower your risk for heart disease. Examples of ideal aerobic exercises that can help are walking, running, swimming, and dancing.
3. Enhance your mood
Menopause is associated with irritability and mood swings on behalf of estrogen deficiency, which can even interfere with sleep and make you feel crankier than usual. Fortunately, exercise naturally helps lift your mood, and combats depression and anxiety. Maintain a regular exercise routine to benefit from increased endorphin levels and less moodiness.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Many women tend to gain excess weight during menopause due to fluctuating hormone levels. However, exercise naturally helps combat weight gain, especially if you’re converting body fat to muscle mass thanks to your strength-training and cardio routine. Combine regular exercise with a diet high in nutrition to see better results in terms of weight loss and weight management.
5. Improve urinary incontinence
Menopause is associated with a higher risk for urinary incontinence and bladder leakage, which can be helped with exercise. Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic muscle exercises, can strengthen your bladder and urethral sphincter muscles, and prevent you from experiencing future accidents. Ask your gynecologist for more information about how to perform Kegel exercises, and how they can aid in preventing urinary incontinence.
The board-certified physicians at Women’s Care Florida are dedicated to providing the gold-star standard in women’s healthcare. Each of our Physician Care Groups has a distinctive style and practice that can be tailored to fit your individual needs.
For more information about how WCF can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.
There are many benefits to incorporating more vegetables into your diet, such as weight loss or weight maintenance, more energy and better digestion. And now, new research suggests that women who eat a high amount of vegetable protein may lower their risk for early menopause and prolong their reproductive function.
According to Science Daily, researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst conducted an ongoing study of 116,000 women ages 25 to 45. Throughout the study, they asked participants to report how often they ate a single serving of 131 foods. They found that women had a 16 percent lower risk of early menopause when they ate approximately 6.5 percent of their daily calories as veggie protein compared to women whose intake was at 4 percent of their calories.
Not sure where you can find a good source of vegetable protein? According to Science Daily, vegetable protein can be found in foods such as whole grains, soy, and tofu. “Consuming enriched pasta, dark bread and cold cereal were especially associated with lower risk,” the article said, “while they observed no similar relation to eating animal sources of protein.”
Here’s a list of other foods high in vegetable or plant-based protein:
- Black Beans
- Green Peas
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
Early menopause is when women experience menopause before the age of 40. Even though it’s rare, women who experience premature menopause often experience other health risks associated with loss of estrogen, such as colon and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
To learn more about how you can lower your risk of early menopause, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified OB/GYNS.
It’s safe to say, many women dread the onset of menopause. Symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, loss of sexual libido, and more can bring about feelings of anxiety or discomfort. While you might not be able to avoid menopause completely, you can reduce and manage its symptoms through proper nutrition.
Eating the right foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can help prevent and relieve common menopause symptoms. Here are other nutrition tips that can help you manage menopause in the healthiest way possible.
Eat calcium-rich foods
The risk for bone loss and osteoporosis increases for menopausal women. Protect your bones by increasing your intake of vitamin D and calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat yogurt, orange juice, broccoli, salmon, sardines, and tofu. Also, consider talking to your doctor about calcium supplements that can help lower your risk for bone loss. Your total calcium intake, including diet and supplements, should be at least 1500 ml per day.
Consume more omega-3s and vitamin B
Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins are key to healthy brain and nervous cell function and can help manage irritability and mood swings accompanied by menopause. Eat flaxseed, walnuts, and oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon for omega-3s, and consume more lentils and lean meats to get higher amounts of B vitamins.
If you consume caffeine and alcohol, be aware that these substances can trigger hot flashes.
Avoid sugary and high-fat foods
Foods high in sugar and fat often lack nutritional value and can upset your hormonal balance to worsen menopausal symptoms. Try to limit how much desserts and sweets you consume, and stop eating processed foods high in sugar, fat, additives, and preservatives.
Try the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet, which is mainly comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil can help stave off weight gain and improve heart health. Plus, these foods can reduce hot flashes and night sweats, stabilize estrogen levels, and regulate blood sugar — all of which help ease menopausal symptoms.
If you suspect you’ve entered menopause, make an appointment with Women’s Care Florida to learn more about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and other treatments that can help ease symptoms.