World menopause day 2009 – Some Lifestyle changes for women

menopauseA relatively unheard and less discussed day – World Menopause Day is celebrated on October 18 every year. World Menopause Day started all the way back in 1984 and was instituted by the International Menopause Society and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The day is devoted to creating awareness about one of the most difficult time in a women’s life and that is when she approaches menopause. Every woman experiences menopause in her lifetime, whether by natural onset or due to a hysterectomy or some cancer treatments. Yet most of them feel uncomfortable talking about the changes they are going through.

Menopause affects a woman’s quality of life and more importantly puts her at an increased risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. So, it becomes all the more important to know about the risks associated and ways of coping with these.

What is menopause?

At about the age of 45 to 50 years, the ovaries stop making estrogen and the withdrawal of the hormone results in stoppage of the monthly menstrual periods. This is called menopause and it happens naturally to all women sooner or later but may also be induced if the ovaries are removed or stop functioning for any other reason. The most common symptoms of menopause include irregular bleeding, hot flushes, vaginal thinning and dryness, mood changes, decreased sex drive, osteoporosis (thinning or weakening of bones), heart disease.

What lifestyle changes are required?

The following tips can help women handle menopause with ease:

  1. Increase physical activity – A modest increase in physical activity can have health benefits by:
    • Helping to regain or maintain energy level
    • Lowering total cholesterol
    • Managing body weight
    • Controlling metabolic syndrome/diabetes
    • Relieving stress.
  2. Learn to deal with stress – Stress is a fact of life whether you are having menopause symptoms or not. Learning to deal with it constructively can make your life more satisfying whatever your age or situation.
  3. Eat healthy – Hormonal changes during menopause weaken the bones and so it becomes vital that women have adequate calcium intake. They should also watch the levels of their vitamin D in the body. Women undergoing menopause is recommended to take at least 1200 mg per day of calcium and about 400-600 IU of Vitamin D for calcium absorption.
  4. Watch out weight gain – Weight gain often occurs in menopausal women, due to declining estrogen levels.  Estrogen is important in regulating weight gain. So, raising the activity level will increase your need for energy and help you avoid gaining weight.
  5. Visit your doctor – In case you experience breast pain, vaginal irritation, spotting, or migraines, consult your doctor.

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