Reducing Your Risk of Complications Associated With Menopause
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Because menopause is a natural biological event in every woman’s life, there is no way to prevent it from occurring. It will happen.
However, you can take measures designed to reduce your risk of diseases associated with estrogen loss, including osteoporosis and heart disease.
A healthful diet during menopause can improve your sense of well-being. It may also reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Your diet should be low in saturated fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains. An adequate intake of calcium (1,200-1,500 mg per day) can help lower your risk of osteoporosis. You can increase the calcium in your diet by eating more low-fat calcium-rich dairy foods like, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods and juices. Vitamin D, found in sunlight and certain foods like fortified milk, liver, and tuna, helps your body absorb calcium.
Cutting back on caffeine may reduce symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. You can drink alcohol in moderation. Moderation means limiting your alcohol intake to a maximum of one drink a day.
Smoking is the number one preventable cause of premature death. Giving up smoking can reduce your risk of early menopause, heart disease, osteoporosis, and many types of cancer, including lung and cervical cancer. Many women quit smoking successfully, often after several attempts. Your healthcare provider may offer medication and other smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine patches and gums. Support groups and smoking cessation classes can also help. The most successful smoking cessation programs involve a combination of behavior modification techniques and drug therapy.
Regular exercise is a great remedy for many symptoms of menopause. It helps promote better sleep, stimulates brain chemicals that can reduce negative feelings and depression, and may reduce hot flashes. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, climbing stairs, and resistance exercises such as lifting weights help to strengthen your bones and decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
During menopause, you may be facing many stressors, such as raising children or having children leave home, caring for elderly parents, and juggling a number of responsibilities. You can reduce stress by taking care of your whole self. This means eating a healthful diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and having enough time for rest and recreation. A variety of relaxation techniques can also help you to cope more effectively with stress. Examples include meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. Available at: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Updated December 2015. Accessed April 17, 2018.
Menopause. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114698/Menopause . Updated March 15, 2018. Accessed April 17, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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