Childcare and You

Childcare and You

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Health Misconceptions of a 40 Plus Woman

Once you have crossed the threshold of being in the 30s and enter into the 40s, you might start assuming that you have reached your dotage. Your children’s comments about your grey hair or crow feet behind the eyes or lines around your neck, etc., could bring your morale down a notch or two. Your menstrual cycle might start acting up, confirming your doubts about menopause and its side effects like depression and panic attacks. 

You leaf through a medical encyclopedia to find out more about diseases afflicting women in their mid 40s, leaving you more confused than ever. TV adverts, diet and fitness books contain general information covering a wide area of medical ailments typically found in older women and it is natural to feel overwhelmed by them. However, a few misconceptions regarding women’s health have been around for so long that you probably believe it is true. But nothing could be further away from the truth.

No life after menopause – This is a common and misplaced fear women have about menopause. Although every woman will undergo menopause, the accompanying problems like hot flashes, depression and panic attacks need not be experienced by all women. There are many women, including me, who are on the wrong side of 50 and do not go through the expected pre-menopausal discomforts that warrant medical treatment. Even if you do get hot flashes etc, they are usually temporary and there are many ways of dealing with them and treating them medically. The underlying fear of getting depression or going bonkers after menopause is completely inaccurate and false. Every woman is different and several factors like age, diet, lifestyle, fitness and body weight determines how she experiences menopause. 

Sex drive reduces after menopause - There are women who believe sex drive reduces not after menopause alone but it goes down once they reach their mid forties! In my opinion, sex drive can fluctuate at any age. I know some women in their 20s and 30s with a low libido. Therefore, it would not be accurate to say that menopause alone is the cause of a poor sex drive. Low sex drive could be the result of an incompatible relationship, physical and mental health, busy work schedule and other factors. Ailments like diabetes can severely cramp a person’s libido. Heavy medication taken for high blood pressure, cardiac issues and depression can also affect your sex drive. You could talk to your doctor about reducing the strength and dosage or recommend something with minimal side effects. Some women do face vaginal dryness during the pre-menopausal and post menopausal period. But they are easily treatable and can be alleviated with vaginal lubricants and moisturizers. 

Risk of fracture due to poor bone density Although low bone density is a cause for fracture, it is not the only cause. Poor nutrition, excessive medications, family history of fractures, age, etc., are other causes. Besides, poor bone density can be found in younger people too. Therefore, to presume that low bone density is on account of menopause is inaccurate. A balanced diet rich in calcium, proteins, vitamins and minerals is of utmost importance. (read Calcium Deficiency - Is Your Child at Risk?) for calcium recipes. After 40, every woman must take calcium supplements to reach the specified level set by scientists, which is 1,000 mg daily, as their daily diet falls short of the required levels. However, calcium is best absorbed by your body if taken with vitamin D. Enjoy a little sunlight every day or take vitamin D supplements. You must exercise regularly to strengthen your bones and maintain bone mass. Cut down smoking and create a conducive and danger free environment around you.  

Unexpected pregnancy happens only to younger women – Women over 40 can get pregnant because as long as she gets her menstrual period, she is fertile. Studies have shown that more than half pregnancies around the world are unexpected. Use contraceptives to prevent such an eventuality or undergo a ‘birth control’ operation. 

If you are 40 plus you cannot take the pill As long as you don’t smoke or have any major health problems, it is considered to be safe to take the pill. In any case, talk with your doctor to get his view about this kind of birth control. 

Fungal infections and sexual diseases only happen to younger womenSexually transmitted diseases occur on account of multiple partners and inadequate precaution. If older women indulge in multiple partners, they are liable to get fungal infections and other sexually transmitted issues. 

Weight gain and fatigue comes with advancing age Although your body does go through changes, it should not be presumed as inevitable and let your body go. Sedentary life, lack of physical activity, poor eating habits and a stress-filled lifestyle will make you look older than you actually are. You can maintain your body and look youthful for as long as you wish, if you changed your lifestyle, adopted healthy eating habits and exercised regularly. Modify your habits as you get older and change your thinking by infusing more positive thoughts and ideas.

Hysterectomy is needed if your doctor says soThe answer to this is a ‘Yes and a ‘No’. Every 3rd woman after 40, in the world, has undergone a hysterectomy for various reasons. After 40, some women undergo menstrual issues that can be treated without going for an invasive surgery. While some cases like fibroid inside the uterus, may necessitate a hysterectomy, it is always better to get a second diagnosis and opinion of another doctor before taking such a step.
For example, a friend recently underwent hysterectomy because she had Adenomyosis (enlargement of the uterus). She had heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue and general discomfort while doing her daily chores. She consulted several doctors who were unanimous about hysterectomy being the only option and till date, she seems fine. 
But another friend of mine, in her mid 40s underwent hysterectomy on account of fibroid inside the uterus. After months of pain and heavy bleeding, she decided to undergo surgery. Unfortunately, during the operation, her ovaries were mistakenly removed too. Much later, she found out from another gynecologist that operation was unnecessary and she could have been treated with medication.
So, the onus should not always lie with the doctor. Research well and then take a decision instead of exposing yourself to risks.

Post menopause problems begins a year after my periods have stoppedDepression, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, moodiness etc., are some common after effects of menopause. They may be experienced before your periods stop and may continue for some time after your periods stop. However, don’t fret. Not all women experience these symptoms. There are many who breeze through the transition without any problem and lead active lives. Even if do get these symptoms, there are many remedies to combat it. Talk to your mother or friends with similar issues or look it up in authentic medical journals. But remember, your mother’s experience need not be experienced by you, so, be cool and positive. Read motivational books and stay happy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


1 comment:

  1. Every woman needs to know these things and to keep from being bothered of what menopause can bring into their lives. At some point in your life, you’re going to have to go through this, as all women will. You don’t have to be ashamed or afraid of this condition. :)