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10 health tips for women at menopause and beyond (including your vital health checks)

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10 health tips for women at menopause and beyond (including your vital health checks)

Here’s a handy guide to the vital health checks and recommendations for women approaching menopause and beyond. Remember to chat to your doctor about your family or personal risk to your health in general – they may suggest a different schedule of checks depending on your individual situation.

1. Check your breasts

Irregular periods and fluctuating hormones can make your breasts feel lumpy or tender. After menopause, your hormone levels drop and your breasts become less dense.

Every 2 years have a screening mammogram, even if you have no personal or family history of breast cancer.

Check your breasts as part of your daily routine. If you notice any changes that concern you, visit your doctor.

2. Look after your heart

During menopause, estrogen levels drop and the level of fat in your blood can increase. This increases the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease. A healthy and active life, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Every 2 years get your blood pressure checked.

Every 5 years have a cholesterol blood test.

You may require more frequent checks if you have high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels.

3. Keep your bones strong

The drop in estrogen after menopause weakens your bones. In the first 5 -7 years after menopause, women experience up to a 20% reduction in bone mass.1

An active lifestyle is a simple way of maintaining strong bones.

Have regular bone health checks with your doctor.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

During and after menopause, many women experience a change in their weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of diseases like diabetes and heart and blood vessel disease.

Maintain a healthy weight with diet and exercise.

Every 2 years check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.

5. Use contraception in perimenopause

You can still become pregnant in the first stage of menopause.

Continue to use contraception until you have gone:

1 year without a natural period if you are over 50 years

2 years without a natural period if you are under 50 years.

6. Continue getting Pap smears

50% of all cases of cervical cancer occur in women over the age of 50.2

Continue to visit your doctor for Pap smears during and after menopause.

From December 2017, 2-yearly Pap screens will change to screening every 5 years for women aged 25 to 74.

7.Look out for signs of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is most common in women over 50.3

Be aware of the common signs of ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Increased abdominal size or persistent bloating
  • Needing to urinate often or urgently
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount.

Visit your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms, if they are new for you and you experience them multiple times within 4 weeks.

8. Don’t ignore continence issues

Changes during menopause may mean you experience:

  • Weak pelvic floor muscles
  • Loss of elasticity in the bladder
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Issues controlling your bladder or bowel
  • Urinary tract infections

Talk to your doctor – continence problems can be managed with help from a continence nurse or woman’s health physiotherapist. Your doctor can prescribe treatment to help prevent urinary tract infections.

9. Look out for unexplained bleeding

Irregular bleeding in the years leading up to menopause can be normal, but bleeding after menopause is not.

Any unexplained bleeding after menopause should be investigated by your doctor.

10. Look after your mental health

Changing hormones in menopause can make you moody and irritable. Coupled with changes to your body, it’s not surprising that menopause can be stressful, up there with pregnancy and becoming a new mum.

In Australia:

  • 1 in 6 women will experience depression4 ,and
  • 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety4 in her lifetime

Discuss any concerns with your doctor. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, seeing a psychologist or taking medication.

©Pfizer 2017. Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. 38–42 Wharf Road, West Ryde, NSW, 2114. PP-DUA-AUS-0204, 10/2017

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REFERENCES

  1. National Osteoporosis Foundation. What women need to know. Available at https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/what-women-need-to-know/. Accessed 16 June 2017.
  2. Pap Screen Victoria. Older women. Available at http://www.papscreen.org.au/forwomen/whoshouldhavepaptests/olderwomen. Accessed 18 September 2017.
  3. Ovarian Cancer Australia. Understanding the risks. Available at: https://ovariancancer.net.au/understanding-the-risks/. Accessed 11 May 2017.
  4. Beyond Blue. Women. Available at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/women. Accessed 10 August 2017.