Sacha Walters-Gregory, Staff Reporter
Menopause, a part of the natural cycle of a woman's life, comes with many side effects, some of which can be eased through a combination of preventative and reactive measures.
According to gynaecologist Dr Keisha Buchanan, one of the major concerns for women at this time is osteoporosis. Therefore, women should ensure that vitamin D and calcium are a part of their diet.
"This really should be a lifelong thing," Buchanan said. However, she further explained that it especially becomes necessary after age 35 because of declining ovarian function. Buchanan also noted that women at this age should also be doing weight-bearing exercises such as aerobics at least three times per week.
According to www.everydayhealth.com, the average age of menopause for women (in the United States) is 51. However, if a woman starts seeing symptoms as early as age 35 or as late as 59, it can still be considered normal.
Hot flashes, one of the more common symptoms persons associate with menopause, can also be eased.
"If it's severe the woman may need oestrogen replacement which comes in the form of pills, gels, foams or patches," said Buchanan.
Natural preparations are preferred by some women.
"For some ladies, who don't want to use hormones, they say they find some relief with evening primrose oil," said Buchanan. The herbal preparation comes from the evening primrose plant which can be used to alleviate hot flashes and help to make the skin supple.
Dryness of the eyes and skin are other issues menopausal women face. "You can use topical lubricants in the eyes such as eye drops and eye gels," she added. For the skin, moisturisers with collagen and elasten are recommended.
Vaginal dryness, which is a sore point for women as it can negatively affect their sex lives by making intercourse painful may also occur. However, relief can be found.
"There are vaginal lubricants that can be used as well as vaginal forms of oestrogen," she said.
"Prolapse of the womb or cervix which can be very disturbing, can affect a woman's sex life, and can cause incontinence of stool and urine," she said. If the case is severe enough, surgery may be required. To help prevent this, women should ensure they do their kegel exercises, which involves contracting and relaxing the muscles which form part of the pelvic floor.
But aside from treatments specific to menopause, Buchanan was quick to remind women at this age to do frequent Pap smears and mammograms as the possibility of cancers is higher.
"Some people start some time before their period stops," said Buchanan of when 'the change', as it's commonly called, begins. It can last for some women between five to 10 years.
"It does get better though," she assured.