What you need to know about staying healthy post-menopause
Some of the changes women’s bodies go through during menopause can leave them vulnerable to illness. Here’s how you can protect your health afterwards
The years before your periods stop completely is the perimenopause – your hormones are in flux, causing symptoms such as hot flushes – and the menopause is technically your last period. Once you’ve gone 12 months with no periods, you’re officially postmenopausal.
For many women, this can be very liberating: not only are you free from periods and any issues you had with them, most perimenopausal symptoms usually vanish too. This means you may feel healthier and more energetic than you have for some time. However, there are some specific health issues that may now appear on the horizon.
Oestrogen tells bone cells to stop breaking down, so your bones can become more fragile after the menopause, during which oestrogen levels drop. The average woman loses 25% of her bone density between menopause and the age of 60, and it continues to decline throughout your life.
How you can stay healthy
Exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise such as walking and dancing, helps maintain bone density. It’s important to keep your levels of bone-protective calcium topped up too, by eating plenty of green leafy veg, dairy, nuts and seeds. Vitamin D is also important, as it helps your body use calcium. The government recommends that all adults take a 10mcg vitamin D supplement every day.
As oestrogen helps protect your heart and blood vessels, after menopause your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease, increases. You may be more at risk of developing circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure and stroke, too.
How you can stay healthy
Eating a healthy diet, staying active and stopping/avoiding smoking are the best ways to reduce your risk of CVD. Your GP can assess your risk and offer tailored advice, while HRT may be beneficial for certain women who have a particular risk of developing CVD.
Changes to your weight and shape
Many older women blame the menopause for putting on weight, but there’s not a lot of evidence that hormone changes lead directly to weight gain. Experts think it’s more likely due to the ageing process, a slowing metabolism, and being less active.
That said, research suggests menopause may cause fat to be redistributed around your stomach, meaning many women change from a pear shape to an apple shape. However, carrying extra weight around the middle is known to increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and CVD.
How you can stay healthy
Use this time of life to get to a healthy weight. You may need fewer calories in your 50s and beyond, so focus on a fresh whole food diet and cut down on sweet or fatty treats and alcohol. Exercise can also help you maintain muscle mass, which keeps your body burning calories more efficiently.
By Charlotte Haigh
Have you got a health question?
We've teamed up with AXA Health to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Click below to submit your query online.
* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.
Latest posts by healthy Magazine (see all)
- How to lose weight in mid-life - January 4, 2021
- How to stay calm at Christmas - December 15, 2020
- How to be your own life coach - November 2, 2020
- What you need to know about staying healthy post-menopause - September 28, 2020
- Why are the over-50s at risk of STIs? - September 1, 2020
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!