Women commonly enter perimenopause in the early to mid-40s and reach menopause (on average) at age 51. The menopause phase usually lasts between 1-3 years before a woman is considered postmenopausal. Once you reach postmenopause, your ovaries only produce minimal amounts of estrogen which will not change throughout the rest of your life.
Low estrogen can increase your risk for certain health conditions in postmenopause. Let’s take a look at what these conditions are and what you can do to prevent them.
Women, in particular, are at an increased risk for bone loss that can increase your risk for fractures, chronic pain, depression, and illness that is secondary to broken bones (such as pneumonia). Some studies show that one in two women will break a bone because of osteoporosis. (This is compared to one in four men with osteoporosis). Low estrogen is one of the leading culprits behind this disparity between men and women.
How to Prevent Osteoporosis – Early prevention is key in women. Studies find that bone loss accelerates after age 50 in women, which happens to be around the same time that women reach menopause. Start implementing the following strategies to ward off bone loss and maximize your longevity and quality of life:
- Eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and protein. Many providers recommend taking supplements for bone health as well.
- Make sure you get enough vitamin D from the sun and your food.
- When it comes to your muscles and bones, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. So stay active by doing regular weight-bearing and muscle-building exercises.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Being underweight and overweight can affect your bones so maintain a healthy body weight
Menopause can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. While the relationship is not well understood, hormone changes may increase your blood pressure, decrease the flexibility in your arteries, and lower your HDL (this is your “good” cholesterol).
How To Prevent Cardiovascular Disease – Certain risk factors may be out of your control such as your family history and your age. However, there are things that you can control such as:
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
- Avoid smoking
- Manage stress levels
Other Postmenopausal Conditions
Depression and vaginal dryness are also symptoms that postmenopausal women can experience. If you are feeling low and just not your self, make sure to let your doctor know your struggles. Similarly, while vaginal dryness is a normal side effect of low estrogen, it can be uncomfortable and lead to more infections. Connect with your doctor to see what options will help you feel more comfortable.
Resources for Learning More About Osteoporosis and Cardiovascular Disease: