Menopause: How to prepare your body for this phase

Menopause is a Greek word “mens” meaning “monthly” and “pause” meaning “cessation.” So it is the end of menstruation and reproductive life due to the loss of ovarian activity and a natural aging process in a woman.

The age of menopause varies between 45 and 55 years, with the average being 50 years. During the transition phase before menopause, which begins in most women around age 45, there is a decline in ovarian function. This is when women typically experience symptoms of menopause, such as infrequent menstrual cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, fatigue, mood swings, low sex drive, vaginal dryness, bladder problems, weight gain, and loss of bone density.

“Different women go through menopause with different symptoms, so it’s not the same for everyone,” says Dr. Jayashree Nagaraj Bhasgi, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru.

Role of estrogen in women’s health

In addition to reproductive function, ovarian hormones play an important role in a woman’s health. Estrogen, an important ovarian hormone, affects the adult skeleton during its continuous regeneration through a remodeling process involving formation and resorption. Consequently, estrogen loss leads to an increased rate of bone turnover and shifts the balance towards bone resorption, which increases fracture rate.

bone health
Beware of brittle bones during menopause. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

dr Bhasgi outlines the different roles of estrogen.

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* Estrogens affect cholesterol levels, helping to increase HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol.
* Estrogen also protects the cardiovascular system in women through a variety of effects.
* Estrogen plays a role in regulating insulin hormone secretion and therefore nutrient homeostasis. So, its deficiency predisposes to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Women also tend to gain weight around the lower abdomen and around the organs. It’s called visceral fat and is linked to conditions like diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer.
* Estrogen has a neuroprotective effect on a healthy brain. It modulates systems in the brain critical to higher cognitive function, and deficiency of which is implicated in mood and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
* Estrogen deficiency is known to cause dry and dull skin and hair, and one may notice more hair on the face than on the scalp.

6 tips to prepare for menopause

Before you hit menopause, it’s good to optimize your health through regular exercise and maintain your ideal weight for as long as possible.

How to deal with menopause:

1. Maintain the ideal weight

It is better to remember that during this period the metabolism slows down, and gaining weight is easy. The likelihood of arthritis and osteoporosis increases when you are obese.

weight during menopause
Keep your weight under control for overall good health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2nd exercise

Any exercise you enjoy doing is good enough if you do it consistently and persistently. Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles are a must.

Weight bearing and resistance training to maintain bone and muscle strength are recommended to prevent falls and fractures.

3. Watch your diet

Paying attention to diet, eating a healthy diet low in fat and simple carbohydrates, high in fiber and protein, must be part of a healthy lifestyle. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good as they reduce the risk of heart disease.

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4. Consume calcium and vitamin D

One must ensure that one is getting enough calcium and vitamin D for bone health during this time.

5. Do something to calm your mind

Meditation, learning a new language, or any creative activity will help prevent memory and mood swings from receding and help prevent stress.

Meditation calms your mind
Meditation calms your mind. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Memorize healthy habits

Reducing screen time, especially at nights, avoiding caffeine after lunch, and avoiding alcohol at night can help you sleep better. Also, quit smoking for better heart health.

Family support during menopause

The woman’s spouse or children should be aware of these changes she is going through so that they can be empathetic and help her through this phase of her life.

The healthier you are during this transition period, the more successful you will be in combating the health changes and diseases associated with menopause.

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