Aging > Managing Menopause
Menopause does not have to be an unpleasant part of the aging process. You can make choices such as diet, exercise habits and attitude that will make the transition smooth and pleasant.
Not many years ago women looked upon menopause, or “the change” as it was often called, with fear and dread. Today, as we learn of more ways to manage aging, menopause and its related symptoms, we know that it does not have to be the disruptive or depressing experience we imagined.
Menopause occurs naturally in all women as they go through the aging process. Under some circumstances it happens abruptly as in when the ovaries are removed. Most often, however, menopause occurs over time. It may take as many as 10 years before your periods stop completely.
Menopause begins when your ovaries stop producing eggs and decrease their production of female hormones. Each woman produces hormones in her ovaries. These are called estrogen and progesterone. Although there is wide variation in terms of age at menopause, most women begin to notice changes in mid-life.
Some of the changes you may notice include mood swings, sadness or depression and even anger; hot flashes, night sweats, changes in sexual desire, and/or sexual discomfort (related to vaginal dryness). The good news is that there are many available remedies for any symptoms you may be experiencing. Some are traditional such as hormone and estrogen therapy. Some, such as soy-based products and herbal remedies, are new and considered alternative. It is helpful to conduct your own research, talk openly with your health care professional and other women to find the best course of action for you.
Do not allow yourself to be forced into any treatment about which you feel uncomfortable. One of the most important contributing factors to managing aging and menopause is attitude. You are not likely to have a good attitude if you feel you are being bullied or if your treatment regimen is not right for you. Whatever course of action you choose, make sure that you consider all long-term health implications.
Many women look forward to some of the advantages signaled by the onset of menopause. As it typically occurs in mid-life many women have completed or are nearing the end of child rearing responsibilities. Also, the prospect of unplanned pregnancies diminishes as the reproductive organs begin to shut down through the natural process of aging. It is important to remember that you can still become pregnant during the transition. If you do not plan to have any children, you may want to consider some form of birth of control until you have moved completely through menopause.
Your body is changing, not just aging, and good care is essential. This is a time of common sense care, not deprivation. Build on your fitness and nutrition goals gradually for long-term success. Try to exercise at least thirty minutes a few times each week to start. Eat well balanced meals and get adequate rest each night. You don’t have to cut out all the things you love, but it is a good idea to quit or at least slow your smoking, moderate alcohol consumption and monitor junk food intake. Ideally, you should stop smoking altogether eventually. If you don’t already have a hobby or interest that brings you joy, look into one now. Your body may be slowing down but your mind and spirit are still growing.