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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ovarian cancer is most common in women over 50.3
Be aware of the common signs of ovarian cancer:
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.
Changes during menopause may mean you experience:
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.
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.
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.
Discuss any concerns with your doctor. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, seeing a psychologist or taking medication.
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