How to maintain women’s health in adulthood
As a woman in adulthood, taking proactive steps to maintain good health can be challenging. Recognizing the signs of common health problems, understanding safe and effective treatment options, and developing positive habits are essential for nurturing your well-being.
In this guide, we’ll tell about the secrets of female longevity, why some women go through menopause calmly while others have a hard time and many other secrets of age-related changes in the female body.
When menstruation stops and hasn’t happened for 12 months, we can diagnose menopause. All changes occur gradually. First, a year or two before the onset of menopause, the interval between periods is shortened. For example, if the menstrual cycle before that was quite regular, normal, 28 days, it suddenly shortens to 24 days. The nature of menstrual flow may also change, and menstruation may become more scarce.
The average age of menopause in the world is 48.8 years, and among Caucasian women – 51 years. Although 1% of women, menopause may occur after 40 years. This is the so-called “early menopause.” However, late menopause, which occurs after 55 years, is also possible. Signs of approaching menopause are largely individual. For some, they are almost invisible, while for others, they greatly affect the quality of life.
Such symptoms can be sudden hot flashes, a feeling of heat that interferes with normal communication with other people, night sweats, a feeling of heat interspersed with a cold, memory impairment, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue, dizziness, and much more. The activity of these symptoms largely depends on the woman’s lifestyle, but it is also true that this is genetically predetermined. That’s why I always tell my patients that.
Is it necessary to prepare for menopause, and if yes, why?
In the modern world, a woman, after the onset of menopause, lives for about 30 years. And it depends on how we will live them: actively rejoicing in life or painfully fading away. Significant changes occur in a woman’s body during and after menopause. At an early stage, the ovaries cease to function, the amount of estrogen decreases, and various vasomotor symptoms increase.
At a late stage, most often after 60 years, many chronic diseases progress, particularly strokes, coronary heart disease and other diseases of the cardiovascular system, osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, dementia, breast cancer, and oncological diseases. After about five years of existence in menopause, urogenital symptoms, urinary incontinence, and signs of prolapse of the vaginal walls may begin to appear.
However, I must immediately say this doesn’t seem right since you should start caring for your health long before menopause. After all, if a woman already approaches this age with certain baggage of chronic diseases, then she understands that menopause will be much more complicated for her.
Suppose she approaches this age in a state of relative, and even better – complete health, in a state where she is not overweight, has regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and a favorite thing that gives a sense of satisfaction. In that case, this guarantees an easier passage through menopause. And maintaining health for years to come.
Even a healthy woman should remember the need for regular preventive examinations, including blood tests, thyroid hormone levels, smears, cervical cancer screening, pelvic ultrasound, breast examination by a mammologist, and mammography.
What worries women most when they think about the aging process?
What women are most afraid of is changes in the skin and joints. This is quite reasonable since female sex hormones, in particular estrogen, are important for the homeostasis of cartilage, collagen, and elastin. Another common cause of concern is a decrease in libido, a violation of sexual functions since various sexual dysfunctions with age can result from the manifestation of urogenital syndrome due to severe dryness of the vaginal mucosa when every sexual contact brings disappointment and sometimes pain.
Very common are fears about the risk of developing thrombosis. Especially thrombosis of the veins of the lower extremities. This is very important for women who are overweight, with an unfavorable family history of thrombosis and thromboembolism, in women who smoke, especially those who smoke and take hormonal drugs simultaneously.
And, of course, today, many are worried about the threat of osteoporosis. Normally, osteoporosis is relevant for women aged 60 years and older. But this is only if the woman approaches menopause in complete health. However, suppose we see that a woman is thin, that she smokes, that she already had fractures before, or her mother had so-called pathological fractures. In that case, such women can develop osteoporosis much earlier, which means there is a risk of injury and disability.
Is there anything we can do to help these patients?
Undoubtedly. First, by prescribing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by a doctor. The essence of the treatment is to restore the lost hormonal function of the ovaries pharmacologically. HRT is prescribed for menopause and is the main method for preventing and correcting menopausal disorders. In therapy, estrogens, gestagens, and sometimes, androgens are used. Androgens are prescribed directly to improve libido for a renaissance of sexual function.
But, I note right away that the use of androgens has not been studied enough to date; the issue is still under study; drugs with androgens for women are not on the market due to insufficient information about the possibilities and safety of their use in women in menopause. But the female sex hormones, namely, estrogens and gestagens, have been studied sufficiently and are widely used in our practice. The selection of hormone replacement therapy allows you to maintain and improve skin and cartilage health. In particular, the need for joint surgery is more likely to occur in women who have not used or do not use hormone replacement therapy.
This is a known fact. It also reduces the risk of fractures in patients at risk for osteoporosis. HRT positively affects the treatment of decreased libido and sexual dysfunction in menopause. Also, many promising scientific studies have shown that women under 60 who take hormone replacement therapy and previously had no cardiovascular pathology have reduced mortality from coronary heart disease. This is something that can reduce overall deaths from heart disease.
At the same time, you need to understand that a doctor can only prescribe HRT, and should be carried out again under medical supervision. Firstly, it still has contraindications. For example, HRT can be dangerous for women with impaired fat metabolism, deep vein thrombosis, suffering from chronic liver diseases, and in some other cases. In addition, it is known that hormone replacement therapy, used between the ages of 40 and 60, can indeed reduce dementia (dementia).
But after 60 years, on the contrary, it can lead to the progression of dementia. There are other reasons why the use of hormone replacement therapy after the age of 60 is generally not recommended today. However, women under 60 should consult their gynecologist about the possibility of prescribing hormone replacement therapy. And it is best to do this already at the age of 40-45.
In addition to HRT, there are also local drugs for transdermal estrogen therapy. For example, in the form of patches and gels. They can be prescribed to women at risk for thromboembolism and in several other situations when systemic use of hormones is not indicated or is ineffective.
For mild forms of menopausal symptoms, phytoestrogens are very popular. These herbal preparations do not have such a strong effect on the body but have a high level of safety, which is important for long-term use.
Speaking in general, it is very important to understand that you cannot simply prescribe some menopause pills to a woman and let her go. The fight against menopause is a review of the overall lifestyle strategy, which should include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining physical, intellectual, and social activity, and developing dietary recommendations. It cannot be assumed that it is enough to start drinking some pills and that life will improve. This doesn’t happen. You need to understand this, give up bad habits, start taking care of yourself and embark on a healthy lifestyle!