The best approach to menopause is to follow a healthy regimen. That includes dealing with smoking, nutrition, exercise, weight management, and stress reduction.
Smoking is a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death. It increases the risk for heart and lung disease and osteoporosis, as well as lung and cervical cancer. It increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Smokers also may experience menopause up to two years earlier than nonsmokers. Your health care provider can offer help to quit smoking.
A healthy diet is one low in saturated fat and high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water. If you are in perimenopause or beyond, however, you have special concerns: Both heart disease and osteoporosis are greatly affected by diet.
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As women approach the end of their reproductive years, their ovaries slow the production of estrogen and progesterone, the two primary female hormones. Although genetics and lifestyle play a role, during the years around menopause, most women tend to gain weight and change body shape. Being overweight and having less muscle mass with increased fat can increase a woman's risk for heart disease. In particular, fat in the abdominal area is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascualr disease. Bone loss also increases with menopause, making women more susceptible to fractures. Excess weight and decreased estrogen levels are also associated with weakening of pelvic floor muscles and changes in the urinary tract, which can contribute to urinary stress incontinence.
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