Reducing Postmenopause Health Risks
After menopause, a woman may be at an increased risk for certain health problems due to decreased estrogen production in the body. Although a woman may begin to feel better postmenopause when menopausal symptoms begin to fade, she may be at a greater risk for developing conditions such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. In addition, it is still important to maintain regular female examinations for cervical and urinary health.
Increased Health Risks Postmenopause
Estrogen has important health benefits to the body for more than just reproduction. Estrogen helps to reduce bone loss and combines with vitamins and minerals to help increase bone growth. This hormone also helps to increase levels of good cholesterol while helping to reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Low estrogen levels can lead to bone loss, increased cardiovascular risks, vaginal dryness, and thinning of the walls of the vagina and the urethra.
Postmenopausal women are likely to lose 20 to 25 percent of their bone tissue in the first 5 years after menopause because of the loss of estrogen. To reduce risk of osteoporosis, women are encouraged to eat a healthy diet with enough calcium and Vitamin D. Weight-bearing exercises that increase muscle can also prevent bone loss and may even help to increase bone mass. Bone density testing can help to determine rate of bone loss and a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis.
Cholesterol levels typically increase after menopause, so its vitally important for postmenopausal women to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A heart-healthy diet and managing other conditions, such as diabetes, can help keep artery walls from collecting excessive plaque buildup. Aerobic exercise can keep the heart and blood vessels strong.
Vaginal and Urinary Tract Problems
Loss of estrogen can thin the walls of the vagina and the urethra. This can cause pain and dryness of the vagina as well as urine leakage through the urethra. A healthy diet and exercise are important. Additionally, there are vaginal hormone therapies that use low-dose estrogen directly applied to vaginal tissue that can increase lubrication and help to ease pain during intercourse. Bladder control training and medications are some of the options a doctor may choose for urinary incontinence. It’s important for potmenopausal women to maintain regular PAP tests and female exams until recommended by their physician.