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Gynecological health in the granny years

The average life expectancy for women is ever increasing, and more women can expect to live for many years in the menopause. There’s no question that things can feel grim during the menopause, what with hot flushes, mood swings and children leaving home!

But some studies report that most women find post-menopausal life as one of nature’s best kept secrets, and something to look forward to. There’s a new sense of freedom after periods have gone. Women report feeling better than before, feel more attractive, enjoy sex more and generally feel 10 years younger!

The decline in estrogen is responsible for many of the symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. These can easily be controlled with hormone replacement, but gradually ease spontaneously in the course of time. But in the longer term, low estrogen levels and other factors contribute to additional health risks.

Post-menopausal women are more predisposed to osteoporosis (brittle bones), heart disease and urinary symptoms. Vaginal dryness and discomfort with sexual intercourse is also common. There are plenty of things you can do to negate such health risks. A good diet rich in calcium and vitamin D promotes healthy bones. Some physical activities like walking, light jogging, swimming or simply taking the stairs instead of the lift are good for both cardiovascular and bone health. Do not smoke, and try to reduce alcohol intake. And try to get enough sleep every night or most nights of the week, this helps reduce fatigue and replenishes your brain function.

Simple remedies like lubricants or estrogen creams can help with vaginal dryness. Urinary symptoms may warrant further review. Complete control of urinary symptoms is often achievable,no one should silently suffer the embarrassment of urinary leakage.

Don’t forget regular screening for cardiovascular health, bone health, breast health and screening for gynecological cancers. Your physician should advice optimal intervals for such screening tests based on your personal characteristics. And at certain ages, it may be feasible to stop some screening tests like Pap smears if they have always been negative. Anything apparent can be nipped in the bud before it shoots off. Health screening may raise the need for additional supplements or specific treatments if necessary.

Some specific symptoms usually warrant immediate attention. Any vaginal bleeding must be considered abnormal, and so is unexplained pelvic pain. Please see your Gynecologist soonest possible if such symptoms arise.

The second half of life should be enjoyed rather than be viewed as an inevitable milestone. Do things you have been putting off, adventure into different paths and see what life brings. Studies consistently report renewed dynamism and sexuality in the menopause. Enjoy it while it lasts, always ensuring you are making the healthiest of choices.

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