Health advises for middle-aged women mainly revolves around dealing with symptoms of peri-menopause, the time in every woman’s life when fertility comes to an end. This normally occurs around the age of fifty, with some women going through menopause a few years earlier, and some a few years later. It can be a difficult time accompanied by numerous possible side effects, with mood swings, depression, reduction of libido, night sweats, and hot flashes being some of the most common. It can take several years for your body to settle down, and only when you’ve not had a period for twelve months can you consider yourself to have entered menopause. However, several other health concerns and considerations come to the fore in women around this age.
Health and wellbeing
The key to good health post menopause is the same as at any other age – a healthy lifestyle. The same rules apply however old you are, so a healthy, balanced, high-fiber diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, watching your weight, taking regular exercise, and managing stress are all major contributors to good health. What you do need to consider post-menopause is what kinds of exercise you take, and make sure it’s suitable for your age. For example, pounding along hard tarmac roads every morning on your daily run could become less comfortable as you age. Running may aggravate arthritic changes in your joints, so if you start feeling sore after a run, consider changing to something less concussive, like cycling. If you’re not feeling any discomfort, then you can happily continue with your current exercise program, just be alert for any signs of change, and make sure you always wear the most supportive footwear you can afford.
For some women, the symptoms they experience during peri-menopause continue even when their periods have ended. It’s not uncommon to have hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood problems when you’re post-menopausal, even into your sixties. If you’re still getting these side effects post-menopause, there are several herbal remedies you can try:
- Black cohosh is a type of buttercup derivative, which may be helpful in treating hot flashes and night sweats and reducing blood pressure.
- Soy produces plant estrogens which are said to mimic the action of female hormones and thus reduce menopausal side effects. It could be worth trying soy for hot flashes and night sweats, preferably taken as food rather than a supplement.
- Flaxseed oil has omega-3 fatty acids that also mimic plant estrogens and could be useful for helping with hot flashes.
- Vitamin E oil improves lubrication if you have vaginal dryness, and is used to help with hot flashes.
If you want to try any of these remedies, it’s best to consult your doctor first, just to make sure they won’t interact negatively with any medications you’re already taking or affect any existing health conditions.
Cancer is one of the diseases people fear the most, and your likelihood of experiencing some form of cancer does increase as you age. Post-menopause, you should continue to check your breasts regularly for lumps or changes and report anything unusual to your doctor. You should also follow your doctor’s schedule for preventive treatments like mammograms and pap smears so that any signs of cell changes can be picked up early.
You don’t want to scare yourself or worry obsessively about getting cancer, but being aware of any particular risk factors you may have is sensible. For instance, a family history of breast cancer does make it more likely you might be affected too.
Treatments for cancer are primarily chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and possibly surgery, depending on the type and extent of the tumor. In post-menopausal women, the drug anastrozole is frequently prescribed for breast cancer patients, either alongside other treatments or where other methods aren’t achieving the desired results. It’s worth finding out more about anastrozole and how it’s used if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As a general rule, if you start experiencing any unusual symptoms or sudden weight loss, it’s always best to go for a checkup.
Complementary therapies for cancer
Complementary therapies including acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, hypnosis, and music therapy have been shown to help with some of the effects of cancer and its treatment, such as pain, fatigue, nausea, and sleep problems. Self-care approaches such as yoga or tai chi, exercise, medication, and relaxation exercises are also important in helping reduce the effects of cancer.
Natural remedies and supplements are often recommended for cancer treatment, but if you want to try any of them, bear in mind that you should talk to your doctor first, as some herbs and spices can react adversely with conventional medications. Clinical trials are ongoing with many natural remedies, for example, curcumin is currently being trialed to see if its anti-oxidant properties can help with cancer.
Other health conditions
- Another disease that becomes more common with age is type 2 diabetes. This condition can creep up on you so gradually you don’t notice the effects until you become quite ill. A blood glucose test is simple to perform and will show up any warning signs, so it’s well worth having a test done regularly.
- High blood pressure is more likely post menopause, and again shows few symptoms in the early stages. Regular blood pressure checks will highlight any problems, and give you the chance to make lifestyle changes and take any necessary medications before your health starts to suffer.
- Arthritis is one of the most recognizable age-related diseases, and symptoms frequently start to manifest themselves post menopause. Magnetic therapy, acupuncture, and gentle exercise are all effective treatment options. You could also try capsaicin cream (made from chili peppers), turmeric supplements, or thunder god vine to help ease the pain.
Just because you’ve gone through the menopause doesn’t mean your future is going to be one of ill-health. There’s no reason not to remain as active and lead a full a life as possible, and in fact, it will do you good to stay physically and mentally fit. Just be aware of the health issues that may come your way, and know how to spot them and manage them if they do make an appearance.