Menopause is a time in a women’s life when periods stop. This usually happens between the ages of 45-55 years. Other than loss of fertility, physical changes may happen including an increase in blood pressure, changes in cholesterol levels and weakening of the bone. This is mainly due to a drop in oestrogen levels, which can last for a few months or several years. Symptoms vary among women and include weight gain, hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, poor concentration, more frequent headaches, joint pains and irregular or heavy periods. Long-term, loss of oestrogen increases risk of heart disease and bone weakness.
During the menopause, muscle mass reduces, meaning fewer calories may be needed. Over time this can lead to weight gain. Being cautious about your energy intake and increasing physical activity can help prevent weight gain. Thirty minutes of brisk walking a day could lead to around 7 kg weight loss in a year and also reduce the risk of heart disease. For advice on safe effective weight control and a healthy weight loss plan, book an appointment here.
From the age of about 35, there is a slow loss of calcium from the bone in both men and women. However, this increases during menopause because of the loss of oestrogen. Many nutrients help keep the bones healthy so it is important to follow a balanced diet. Do this by choosing a variety of foods and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as foods that are good sources of calcium. For most women, this would mean aiming for 2-3 portions of calcium-rich foods a day which can include:
Vitamin D is also essential in bone health. It is manufactured in the skin in response to sunlight. The time of sun exposure is important, usually between 10am to 3pm. However, especially during autumn and winter, all adults should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D. Food sources include oily fish, cod liver oil, butter and fortified margarine, eggs and fortified cereals.
It has been said that during menopause a women’s risk of developing heart disease goes up to the same level of a man of the same age. Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk: