Let's discuss some of the post-menopausal complications that we, as women, should be aware of. After menopause, our risk of certain medical conditions increases. Here are some examples:
1. Heart and Cardiovascular Disease: As our estrogen levels decline, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. It's essential to remember that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and men. To protect our hearts, we should prioritize regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. Our doctors can provide valuable guidance on heart protection, including strategies to manage cholesterol and blood pressure if they're too high.
2. Osteoporosis: This condition makes our bones brittle and weak, increasing the likelihood of fractures. In the initial post-menopausal years, we might experience a rapid loss of bone density, elevating the risk of osteoporosis. Women post-menopause, especially those with osteoporosis, are particularly susceptible to fractures in the spine, hips, and wrists.
3. Urinary Incontinence: As the tissues of our vagina and urethra lose elasticity, we may face frequent, sudden urges to urinate, followed by involuntary urine loss (urge incontinence). Or, we might experience urine leakage when coughing, laughing, or lifting (stress incontinence). Urinary tract infections may also become more common.
To tackle these challenges, we can strengthen our pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises and use topical vaginal estrogen, which can relieve incontinence symptoms. Additionally, hormone therapy may be an effective option to address menopausal urinary tract and vaginal changes that contribute to urinary incontinence.
4. Sexual Function: Decreased moisture production and loss of elasticity can lead to vaginal dryness, causing discomfort and slight bleeding during sexual intercourse. Reduced sensation may also affect our desire for sexual activity (libido).
To address these issues, water-based vaginal moisturizers and lubricants can be quite helpful. If a vaginal lubricant doesn't suffice, many of us find relief through local vaginal estrogen treatment, which is available in various forms such as vaginal creams, tablets, or rings.
5. Weight Gain: This is something many women struggle with regardless of menopause but the menopausal transition and post-menopause period often bring weight gain due to a slower metabolism. To maintain our current weight, we may need to adjust our eating habits and incorporate more exercise into our routines.
Ladies, while these post-menopausal complications are part of our journey, we can navigate them with care, knowledge, and resilience. It's about embracing this next chapter with grace and making the necessary adjustments to live our lives to the fullest.