Menopause Type 4: Post-menopause
It’s week four of Global Menopause Awareness Month, and we’re continuing our journey through the phases of the menopause transition with Gennev’s Menopause Types.
As we learn more from resources like our Menopause Assessment, we’re discovering there are consistencies in what many women experience. That’s how Gennev was able to develop the five Menopause Types. And women are loving having a tool that helps them understand their bodies better and be more prepared for what may be coming next.
What is Type 4?
Type 4s, that light you see actually IS the end of the tunnel, though at times you might still feel like you’re getting hit by the train. Now several years past your last period, you’re almost ready to throw away that last box of tampons under the bathroom sink, right?
As you move through the Type 4 phase, it’s time to really focus on maintaining your good health for the many happy years ahead. While your body has in many ways adapted to the lack of estrogen, there are long-term effects that require attention.
Type 4s, here are your pain points
By now, hopefully your hot flashes are either gone or clearly going. Your metabolism has likely settled into a new normal, and your weight has, more or less (no pun intended), stabilized. Anxiety, depression, irritability, rage — those are retreating, and isn’t life more glorious because of it?
It’s good the truly acute symptoms are retreating, so now you can focus on the long-term effects estrogen withdrawal has on sexuality, bones, brain, and heart.
For many women, vaginal symptoms of dryness and thin, vulnerable tissue can persist for their rest of their lives. Vaginal atrophy can make it hard to want or enjoy intimacy.
Gennev’s solutions: A really good daily moisturizer and intimate lubricant can help tissues stay moister and more pliable. For women wanting to re-engage in sex who find penetration too painful, a series of vaginal dilators or sexual toys can be a huge help.
We also suggest an open dialogue with your intimate partner. Sexual problems can be very damaging to a relationship, so honest conversation, perhaps with professional help, is critical.
While men do have more heart concerns than women prior to menopause, about 10 years post-menopause, a woman’s risk of heart disease is equal to a man’s. And because we don’t always recognize the symptoms of a heart attack in a woman, her chance of dying of it is greater.
Heart disease remains the #1 killer of women, but it doesn’t have to be. A healthy lifestyle, plus medical intervention when needed, can go a long way to managing and preventing heart disease.
Gennev’s solution: Good nutrition is vital. There are places on earth marked as “blue zones” where people live longer, healthier lives, and centenarians aren’t unusual! Most of those places eat a Mediterranean-style diet, with its emphasis on leafy greens, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Gennev’s Health Coaches are all registered dietitian nutritionists; sign up to get more information on how to eat the way spry 100-year-olds eat!
Exercise, hydration, and social time are also very important. Get your heart rate up just thirty minutes, five days a week. Drink plenty of water. And spend time with friends and family. That’s tough now, with COVID, but studies show those who maintain social relationships as they age just live longer.
Finally, consider a pet. They do the heart and body good — taking the dog for walks, even just petting and talking to a comfy kitty can reduce stress and increase oxytocin (the “love hormone”).
If you looked at that subhead a couple of times and thought, “Who’s Brian?” don’t panic! Brain fog is still common in Type 4, but you should be coming to the end of it soon.
All kidding aside, women do account for two out of every three diagnoses for Alzheimer’s disease, and as Dr. Lisa Mosconi and her team at Weill Cornell Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic discovered, there does appear to be a connection between menopause, estrogen withdrawal, and development of dementia-related brain plaque.
Gennev’s solution: So how do we protect our brains? Nutrition! As Dr. Mosconi told us in our podcasts with her, nutrition is key: make sure you’re getting plenty of omega 3s (fatty fish—Dr. Mosconi particularly favors caviar), as well as fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy, unrefined oils, good glucose (not just sugar), and plenty of water. Hydration is key, says Dr. Mosconi, as 80 percent of the brain is water! Steeply reduce processed and deep-fried foods, minimize animal products, and stay well away from trans-saturated fats.
If you’re not sure you’re getting enough of any of the good nutrients (and O3s can be particularly challenging if you don’t eat fish), check out Gennev’s Vitality supplement to fill in any gaps you may have in your nutrition.
Osteoporosis is extremely common and very dangerous. For one thing, most people don’t know they have bone loss until they experience their first fracture. And since complications from hip fractures kill more post-menopausal women than breast cancer, it’s a real concern.
Gennev’s solution: Obviously, nutrition is huge (again – are you seeing a theme here?) and fortunately, the same things that are good for your brain and heart are also good (or at least not damaging) to your bones: leafy greens, lean proteins, choosing whole foods over processed. Make sure vitamin D and Omega 3s and calcium are on your supplements list.
Weight-bearing exercise is good for bones, so walking, running, dancing, anything that pits you against gravity is good. And while biking and swimming are great cardio exercises, they don’t help your bones, so try to get some of both. Watch your posture as well! Your body is meant to “stack” so the weight is on your skeleton (which is good for you) and not pulling muscles this way and that (which hurts).
Yes, the years after that final hot flash fades still have challenges, but being proactive and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can go a very long way. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your habits, your medications, or anything menopause-related, feel free to make an appointment to consult with one of our physicians or health coaches.
Some of the best years of your life are ahead of you – enjoy!
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