Losing the protection of estrogen is as big a milestone in a woman's life as the end of childbearing years. But there is a lot we can do nowadays in additional to medical treatment to minimize, risk, maintain our health and promote quality longevity. Aerobic exercise is great for your cardiovascular system. Studies show that you can reduce your risk of heart attack by 50% just by doing a half hour of moderate aerobic exercise daily. Also, endorphins released during exercise can help with mood swings. And, Aerobic exercise can also help you burn calories, lose weight, regulate your metabolism.
Here are some aerobic exercise suggestions. Click each picture to learn about each.
Weight bearing and weight resistance exercise helps maintain bone mass and can even promote bone growth with as little as 30-45 minutes two-three days a week, every other day. Skeletqal Fitness is weight bearing exercise for the whole body with special emphisis on the areas most at risk for Osteoporiic fracture. Clisk the individual pictures to learn about each.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor helping to prevent incontinence and maintain vaginal muscle tone . You can do them a few minutes every day and body sculpting with weights can help maintain a youthful figure. Click individual pictures to learn about each strength video.
Stretching helps maintain mobility and youthful flexibility while relieving stress. Deep breathing and meditation can help you sleep and regulate your mood.
Getting regular check-ups, an effective exercise program and a healthful diet are the first steps in preserving equilibrium through this challenging change of life. Precautions may include: avoiding alcohol and caffeine, maintaining regular sleeping habits, not taking on too many stressful activities and getting psychological support from friends and family members.
As estrogen levels decline in a woman's body during middle age, she may experience irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual desire, depression and difficulty sleeping. This generally begins in a woman’s mid to late 40’s. It is called perimenopause. Severity of these symptoms varies greatly from woman to woman. 25% of us won’t get any symptoms at all.
Menopause is defined as the day on which you have not had a period for 12 consecutive months. Menopause can be naturally or medically induced due to hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries). At menopause a woman loses the protection of estrogen. The body becomes more susceptible to a number of health problems.
Estrogen protects against heart disease by helping maintain HDL, the good cholesterol that keeps plaque out of your arteries. A woman’s risk of developing heart disease is greatly increased after menopause. In fact, coronary heart disease is the #1 killer of post-menopausal women.
Bone health is also maintained by estrogen. And women can experience up to a 30% bone loss in the first 10 years following menopause. Most will develop osteopenia, a condition of low bone mass, which, if not dealt with, can lead to osteoporosis. (osteoporosis is a disease, which, over time, causes bones to become thinner, more porous and less able to support the body. Bones can become so thin; they break during normal every day activity.)
Lack of estrogen also affects vaginal tissue. The vaginal walls become thinner and the vagina remains dry even during sex. This can be painful as well as inconvenient. There are topical lubricants as well as low dosage vaginal hormone replacements that can help alleviate these symptoms.
Hormone and estrogen replacement is a common medical treatment for all these conditions. However it is not without serious risks of its own. Talk to your doctor about effectiveness and possible risks.
Herbal Remedies For Menopausal Symptoms
Some women try herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms. However, it is important to remember that herbal and even nutritional remedies may work for some women and not for others, and that supplement makers often make unproven claims about their products. By nature, herbal remedies can vary among brands and harvests, so that ensuring you are getting the same quality every time is nearly impossible. Also keep in mind that herbal products may interfere with medications you may be taking. Some of the few that have been studied have not yet shown effectiveness. Yet some people individually give anecdotal evidence that the herb was effective for them.
A main herbal remedy for menopausal symptoms, as well as menstrual cramps, is black cohosh. It may offset this decline in estrogen by providing powerful plant compounds called phytoestrogens that mimic the hormone's effects. These phytoestrogens bind to hormone receptors in the uterus, breast, and other parts of the body, possibly lessening hormone-related symptoms as a result.
A 1991 study women found that black cohosh may also help to minimize hot flashes by reducing levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), a compound produced by the brain's pituitary gland that regulates the activities of a woman's ovaries. The rise in LH has been implicated as a cause of hot flashes.
Some women take black cohosh as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. Unlike HRT, which has been linked to a slightly increased risk of breast cancer when taken long-term, black cohosh doesn't appear to stimulate the growth of breast tumors. Some researchers even think the phytoestrogens might prevent tumor growth by keeping the body's own estrogen from locking onto breast cells. Keep in mind, however, that the phytoestrogens in black cohosh will not offer the protection from heart disease or osteoporosis that prescription HRT can provide.
Another herbal phytoestrogen is called dong quai. Although it has been used as a folk remedy in Asia for women’s reproductive issues, studies have found that it could be dangerous. Check with your doctor.
Red clover, another possible herbal antidote, has not been studied adequately.
Some women also turn to soy extracts, a source of plant estrogen. Yet it is reported in one study that these extracts may cause digestive discomfort and their effectiveness is not universal. It is possible that soy is thought to work partly because Asian women – whose diets are high in plant-based foods such as soy and low in meat and dairy products – generally do not experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Soy may be generally protective for girls and women throughout life, as part of a healthy diet, but women who have had breast cancer or are at high risk for the disease are often cautioned to limit their soy consumption to two or three servings per week.