Simple Health Steps for Women in Their 40s and 50s
When you're in your 40s and 50s, it's time to start giving some thought to the kinds of screening tests you need, what menopause will mean for you, and what nutrition is best. Check out these tips for managing your health.
1. Revisit Your Birth Control Methods
Talk to your doctor about possible changes. For example, if you take the pill, as you get older you may want to think about a switch to an IUD, estrogen patch, or other methods. That's because some birth control pills may raise some women's risk of heart disease and blood clots.
2. Manage Menopause
Talk to your doctor before symptoms of menopause kick in. Discuss what you might want to do to ease any discomfort.
Short-term hormonal therapy (HRT) may be a choice for you if you have moderate to severe effects from menopause and you're at low risk for breast cancer, heart disease, strokes, and blood clots.
HRT can help with symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, and vaginal dryness.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Calcium
If you haven't already started to watch your bone health, do it now. As you move into menopause, it's an important time for you to prevent osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones.
If you don't get enough dairy in your diet, take a supplement with calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is the key that unlocks the calcium in your body so it can use it.
Ask your doctor whether you should have a bone density scan to check for early osteoporosis. If you're under 65 but past menopause, you may need one if you're at risk for the condition because you've had a fracture, take steroid medicines, smoke, have a low weight, drink a lot of alcohol, have rheumatoid arthritis, or have a parent who's had hip fractures.
4. Don't Forget Key Screening Tests
Make sure you get regular mammograms to check for breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about when you should start and how often to get them, because experts disagree. Also ask about when to get diabetes tests and a colonoscopy to check for colorectal cancer.