Just as a young woman must adapt to the changes of puberty, menopause is simply another stage in our body’s natural development. Where it was once seldom talked about, thankfully these days, we’re far more open and informed about this natural transition.
- It typically occurs in women between the age of 40 and 55.
- It can happen earlier, due to surgical removal or ovary malfunction.
- It’s defined as menstruation ceasing for a period of 12 months or more.
Symptoms of menopause
- Hot flushes- the most common symptom
- Mood changes
- Decreased libido
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot Flushes
They affect two thirds of women in the first two years of menopause. Hot flushes are caused by a hormonal imbalance that disrupts temperature control mechanisms. They are usually worse at night, causing broken sleep patterns. As the body adapts to the decreased oestrogen levels, hot flushes will eventually subside.
In the long-term, these hormonal changes may lead to:
- Reduced bone mass
- An impact on your heart health
How to manage menopause
While the onset of menopause can’t be halted, there is much that can be done to alleviate the symptoms.
While many factors can lead to loss of bone mineral density, menopause is the most common cause. It may affect the entire skeleton, but is usually concentrated to the spine, hips and ribs. The good news is that you can reduce your chance of osteoporosis by following a healthy lifestyle:
- Regular, gentle exercise can help improve core strength, heart health and improve your mood
- A diet of mainly fresh, unprocessed whole foods is recommended
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and simple sugars
Fibre helps maintain healthy digestive function and regularity. Healthy sources of fibre can come from high fibre cereals, fresh fruit, salads and vegetables, or using a fibre supplement such as oat bran or psyllium.
Soy contains naturally occurring oestrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. There is a link between soy consumption and reduced hot flushes. Isoflavones can provide long-term health benefits, as they appear to protect against bone density reduction.
Calcium is an essential element of bones and a diet that is deficient in calcium can lead to osteoporosis in later life. Calcium supplements have been shown to increase bone mass in menopausal women.
Always check with your health care professional before taking supplements with other medications. If symptoms persist, seek advice from your healthcare professional.
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Published November 20, 2012
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