Because menopause is a natural biological event in every woman’s life, there is no way to prevent it from occurring.
You can, however, take measures designed to reduce your risk of diseases associated with estrogen loss, including osteoporosis and heart disease.
Reducing Your Risk
The following approaches may reduce your risk of diseases associated with estrogen loss.
Increase Your Intake of Phytoestrogens
A substantially high intake of phytoestrogens (isoflavones and lignans) may help reduce your menopausal symptoms. They may also reduce your risk for diseases associated with estrogen loss. Phytoestrogens occur naturally in certain foods:
- whole grains
- some fruits and vegetables
Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthful diet during menopause can improve your sense of well-being. It may also reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Your diet should be low in saturated fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains. An adequate intake of calcium (1200-1500 mg per day) can help lower your risk of osteoporosis. You can increase the calcium in your diet by eating more calcium-rich dairy foods (low-fat or nonfat preferred), leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods and juices. Vitamin D, found in sunlight and certain foods (fortified milk, liver, and tuna), helps your body absorb calcium. Recent evidence supports dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil capsules, salmon, tuna).
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Smoking is the number one preventable cause of premature death. Giving up smoking can reduce your risk of early menopause, heart disease, osteoporosis, and many types of cancer, including lung and cervical cancer. Many women quit smoking successfully, often after several attempts.
Regular exercise is a great remedy for many symptoms of menopause. It helps promote better sleep, stimulates brain chemicals that can reduce negative feelings and depression, and may reduce hot flashes. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, climbing stairs, and resistance exercises such as lifting weights help to strengthen your bones and decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
During menopause you may be facing many stressors, such as raising children or having children leave home, caring for elderly parents, and juggling a number of responsibilities. You can reduce stress by taking care of your whole self. This means eating a healthful diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and having enough time for rest and recreation. A variety of relaxation techniques can also help you to cope more effectively with stress. Examples include meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/ . Accessed November 2009.
North American Menopause Society website. Available at: http://www.menopause.org/ . Accessed February 14, 2006.