Staying Healthy Through Menopause and Beyond

 middle aged woman sitting outside

Did you know that eating well and exercising can help manage menopause? Read on to learn more about how a healthy lifestyle can help you feel your best and reduce the risk of age-related diseases.  

What is menopause?

Menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. It marks the end of a woman's menstrual periods. During the normal process of menopause, the body creates less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Having less of these hormones may cause:

  • hot flashes
  • sweating
  • fatigue
  • vaginal dryness
  • changes in sleep
  • changes in mood
  • irritability

Relief for symptoms of menopause

Some women do not need to treat menopause symptoms. Other women may try medicine or supplements.  Speak to your doctor to find a plan that works best for you. Some options include:

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): This is a treatment that adds hormones to the body.  HRT became less popular after studies showed that long term use may increase the risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Speak with your doctor to learn more.

Flax and soy: These are plants that contain “phytoestrogens” or plant-based estrogens, which copy the effects of the hormone estrogen in the body. The research on whether taking soy or flax from food or pills can help reduce menopause symptoms is unclear. For example, some studies show that soy can offer relief from hot flashes.  However, more studies need to be done before we can make any recommendations.

*Note: For women who have had breast cancer, soy supplements (pills or powders) are not recommended. Eating 1-2 servings of soy foods per day (such as tofu, veggie burgers or soy beverages) is okay.  

Lower disease risk as you get older

The risk of developing some health problems may rise after menopause. Eating well can help lower the risk of:

Weight gain: Weight gain is part of the natural aging process. It is not usually caused by menopause. Eating less food and getting 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day can help stop age-related weight gain. Click here to learn about some weight control methods that you can try.

Heart disease: Before menopause, a woman’s body makes the heart healthy hormone estrogen. It helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. When estrogen levels drop after menopause, the risk of heart disease rises. 

Osteoporosis: After menopause, women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis (a disease of weak bones). It’s important to get enough bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Click to learn more about healthy bones and calcium-rich foods.

Breast cancer: The risk of breast cancer rises with age, but is not necessarily related to menopause. Click here to learn how to lower your risk of all types of cancer.

The bottom line? Staying healthy after menopause means you need to eat well and be active.

Make healthy food choices to help lower the risk of chronic diseases. Here are some tips:

For more information on aging well:
Older adults eating well
Just for men - staying healthy over 50

Last Update – May 16, 2022

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