Every woman, excluding those who’ve had their ovaries removed before puberty, will go through menopause. Around 1.3 million women will experience menopause each year, but 73% of them don’t treat their menopausal symptoms! (2)
Using hormones to predict menopause onset.
Hormone levels such as estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) can vary significantly prior to the onset of menopause.
Estrogen and AMH levels decrease as we approach menopause, while FSH levels experience a hike within 2-5 years of menopause onset (3). This is long before you experience any of the above-listed symptoms. We can actually use the levels of these hormones in your blood to accurately predict the time to menopause onset! This can allow an individual to prepare for this critical transition, and start treatments on time.
Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRTs).
Early implementation of HRTs has been shown to reduce the risk of several menopause-associated diseases. (4). HRTs are just one of the many ways in which you can limit health complications from menopause. (Read more about using HRTs to treat menopausal symptoms here!)
Many women believe that they might actually be too young to start HRT, which in most cases, is simply not true! In fact, research suggests that starting HRT earlier rather than later can help protect your body from the risks associated with menopause (cognitive decay, osteoporosis, diabetes, etc.)
Why should you prepare for menopause?
Most of the time, menopause is identified late. Menopause is usually diagnosed once symptoms are identified which is a retrospective and late diagnosis. This can actually worsen the effects of menopause.
A delayed diagnosis or a delay in starting menopausal treatment can make you more susceptible to:
Type 2 diabetes
Preparing for menopause can help alleviate the psychological and physical effects. You can make both lifestyle changes and start on treatments in a timely manner. While preparation won’t be able to completely abolish the effects of menopause, you can significantly reduce discomfort and associated health risks (6).
How should you prepare for menopause?
Now that we know the benefits of preparing early and the negative effects that may result from lack of preparation, let’s discuss some things you can start today to help you prepare for the future!
Support your bones. If your body doesn’t get the calcium it needs, it’ll start to steal that calcium from your bones. This decreases your bone mass and puts you at risk for osteoporosis! So, implement some dairy products and recommended supplements in your diet to keep those bones strong! (6)
Take time out for healthy exercise and eating habits. This is crucial as many factors may cause one to gain weight during this time. Maintaining those healthy exercising habits helps fight against those hormone fluctuations that can lead to fat build-up, lack of sleep that can lead to inactivity, etc. Diets that contain estrogens and calcium are highly recommended for post-menopausal women. (6)
Try Kegels and yoga. Another uncomfortable effect of menopause is some pelvic floor disorders. Doing yoga, or kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises) can help to strengthen your pelvic muscles! (6)
Learn to effectively manage stress. During menopause, you have a higher susceptibility to increased health risks such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Stress just increases the risks of these physical problems, so it is important to learn stress management skills. Some ways to cope with stress are to try meditation, yoga, massages, going out with friends or loved ones, etc. (6)
Get ample rest. Sleeplessness is a very common side effect of menopause, and in order to prepare for that stage of your life, it's very important to learn healthy sleeping habits. There are many ways to learn how to get a better night of rest! For instance, make sure not to consume caffeine after noon. Exercise (such as jogging) is another method that can help your body get tired and fall into a good sleep. Find what works best for you! (6)
Make sure to not ignore symptoms and get tests done! Getting a test from your doctor for your body’s estradiol levels and a blood test that measures follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), is a great way to be on the preparation track! (3)
Make sure to implement those healthy lifestyle changes and early treatment/diagnosis. Preparing for menopause earlier can alleviate the negative cognitive effects of menopause and the uncomfortable symptoms!
Take care of your bones, welcome exercise and healthy eating habits, do Kegels and yoga, learn to manage stress, and get ample rest!
HRT, HRT, HRT! Early implementation of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decay, depression, etc. (7).
There are resources for you to make this hard phase more manageable, don’t feel the need to just silently suffer! While good health habits won’t be able to completely abolish any discomfort, they’ll definitely make the inevitable symptoms more manageable.