Regular checkups are important in menopause – Self Care Series Tip # 9
Maintaining good health throughout life is something we all hope for.
A big part of how well we age is related to our genes, but much more depends on how well we take care of ourselves. This is never more true than in menopause.
During menopause, hormonal levels in our bodies change, bringing many unfamiliar issues. Perhaps hot flashes, insomnia and mood swings are some of the more apparent issues, but we have to pay as much attention to the silent changes going on inside as to the more obvious outward changes.
We know that the risks of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis rise in menopause. We are not going to sugar coat it, but none of this is a jail sentence. There is plenty we can do to ensure that we age well and remain vibrant. A healthy lifestyle is very important, but so are regular medical checkups to catch any problems early.
Why does the risk of some diseases rise after menopause?
The two main female hormones, estrogen and progesterone play important roles in a woman’s reproductive cycle. As we transition into perimenopause and menopause, the levels of these hormones drop significantly causing the changes associated with menopause.
Estrogens have a protective effect against heart, blood pressure and diabetes. This is why, before menopause, women are less likely to suffer heart attacks than men. Estrogen also affects how the body uses calcium, so as its levels decrease, there is a greater loss of bone density and a higher risk of osteoporosis.
So, as we enter menopause and the level of estrogens dips, we have to pay more attention to the increased risk of these diseases, and we have to take better care of ourselves.
Regular medical checkups can protect us in menopause
Women need regular checkups throughout their lives, but these become more important in and after menopause. If you have a family history of certain diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and heart disease, your doctor will ask for more regular tests and checkups. More generally, here are some of the recommended checkup tests:
Get regular mammograms or ultrasounds, if there is a family history of breast cancer start in your 20s. You should do a self-breast checkup every month but don’t skip the annual mammogram.
Regular checkups are important in menopause.
Get annual pap smears, yes, even after menopause. This is something you should take very seriously. Put it into your calendar and be responsible for your health.
Regular height measurement can detect loss of bone density through the loss of height. Bone Mass Density screening is recommended for women as they enter menopause. This is when they have not had a period of more than 12 months. Again, if you have a family history of fractures or osteoporosis, please get the specialized bone density test.
4-Regular blood work
To screen for risk of diabetes and heart disease. Physicians recommend a regular check-up blood test once yearly.
5-Blood pressure measurement
You should have your blood pressure measured regularly (every few months) as high blood pressure can creep up on you unannounced and cause damage. High blood pressure is often called the silent killer. You can have your blood pressure measured at a pharmacist.
6-TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
All women over 35 should be tested for hypothyroidism as the risk increases significantly after this age. Women are 7 times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism. This can be easily controlled with the help of your doctor.
A colonoscopy screening exam is recommended once every 5 years starting at age 50.
When you reach menopause, you should ask your doctor what screening tests they recommend and how often do they recommend you do them. Doctors have different opinions on what is necessary. Find a doctor you trust and follow their advice.
Each woman is different and has a different genetic and environmental profile. It is very important to see your doctor at least once a year for a general checkup and to discuss what tests are needed to keep an eye on any issues that may arise.
Science has made huge advances in the treatment of many diseases associated with getting older. People are living longer and healthier lives well into old age. We can now age beautifully, graciously and in full health.
Let us make sure that we treat our health with the respect it deserves. Regular checkups are important in menopause. Please get your recommended checkups and tell that estrogen who is the boss of your body!!
Read more tips here on how to take better care of yourself in menopause.