Guest Column: For every woman, healthy aging is possible
Girls’ Night Out event Nov. 3 to feature national expert, Gerber Memorial health professionals
By Diana Bitner, MD, and Alina McDermed, MD
Healthy aging is possible!
Even in the face of many challenges, knowledge about what is going on inside is invaluable. Our body processes are amazing but often mysterious, and the unknown can be confusing and scary. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) does not...
...have to be mysterious nor do weight gain, fatigue, night sweats, changing periods and low sex drive.
Women’s health research has helped us understand what is going on and how to deal with change. There are many practical tips everyone can do to see their symptoms get better and options exist to deal with heavy periods, mood swings, vaginal dryness, insomnia, and pain with sex.
Women’s body systems are very different than men’s, and not just in obvious ways. Women have different risk factors, symptoms and health timelines. By knowing the facts, common issues women face such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and cancer do not have to be so mysterious, and in fact are often preventable.
It is amazing that many health problems can be predicted by understanding the family history of grandmothers, mothers and sisters and examining daily health habits such as food cravings and each of our personal history of conditions such as heavy irregular periods, PMS and mood problems such as depression or anxiety.
Pregnancy problems such as high blood pressure, large babies, or diabetes can also predict heart attacks and diabetes in the future. Often regular periods are a good sign everything is working well, and when the periods change, it can be a sign that important changes are happening, which need to stop if healthy aging is the goal.
Every woman, no matter her age, should know that her health is as good as it is going to get at the age of menopause. Menopause is most likely to happen for women at the same age it started in their mothers or older sisters.
For women who smoke, menopause can come earlier. Menopause can also happen unexpectedly for women who require life-saving chemotherapy for cancer, at any age, or require the removal of ovaries for problems such as endometriosis or large worrisome cysts.
The earlier a woman prepares for a healthy menopause, the more likely she will get to age how she wants. Recognizing the power of hormones to affect daily life with bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, pain with sex, weight gain, sleep disturbances, and mood changes as well as the lack of hormones increasing the risk of heart attacks and diabetes can help prepare for many good years after menopause.
I believe everyone cares about healthy aging, even if aging has not crossed their mind. Day-to-day life can be so crazy that it is easy to think, “I will exercise tomorrow” or “I’ll start eating better next week when kid’s soccer is over.”
But the truth is, there will always be some event, some stress, some deadline, some injury such as a sprained ankle that can get in the way of healthy habits. Today is the day to start fresh, to make goals, and to have a plan.
Join us at Girls’ Night Out on Nov. 3 at the Dogwood Center in Fremont to learn the facts about healthy aging for women, reflect how the information applies to you, and make real changes to feel and age like your truest self.
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