Lifestyle Modifications and Menopause

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Mickie Griffith-Autry, PhD, NP-C

Mickie Griffith-Autry Article

 

When a woman with menopausal symptoms presents to her health care provider she may be given medication, however lifestyle modifications are infrequently addressed. The current guidelines are endorsed by evidence-based literature and should be considered part of the treatment plan for menopausal symptoms.

Many women who are entering or currently in menopause exhibit a decrease in metabolism, increase in tobacco use, and limited time for exercise and diet schedules. Therefore it is important to discuss smoking cessation, weight reduction, and ways to eliminate daily life stress.

It is well established that smoking is the leading cause of a variety of illnesses. Lung cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and stroke are just some of the major consequences of smoking. While smoking cessation is difficult helpful strategies are available. Ongoing counseling, social support, pharmacotherapy, and health care provider have proven to be beneficial in assisting women to stop smoking.

Weight reduction is a major factor in disease prevention and health maintenance. During menopause, weight gain is likely to occur. Exercise can have a positive impact on menopause and overall health. While a daily exercise routine is important, some daily activities that can be incorporated have been proven beneficial. This activities include but are not limited to using stairs instead of elevators, walk or bike to your destination, park far away from building and walk, exercise with others, and use a stationary bicycle while watching TV.

Many menopausal women experience depression, mood changes, irritability, and decreased libido. Stress reduction strategies to consider include relaxation and anger management techniques, meditation skills, and behavioral and cognitive therapies. Biofeedback, massage therapy and pet therapy are reported to alleviate some of the stressors that are encountered during menopause.

Lifestyle modifications that address diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and stress reduction aid in the overall treatment of menopausal symptoms. Research supports the importance of lifestyle modification, in addition to pharmacotherapy for the relief of menopausal symptoms.

While obtaining a baseline bone density test is valuable. It is imperative that menopausal women modify their lifestyle factors in an attempt to increase their bone strength. Several lifestyle factors have been identified to assist in the promotion of bone strength. These include maintaining a balanced diet and assure adequate intake of calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and isoflavones. Weight bearing and strength training exercises are beneficial to bone development and maintenance. Implementing fall prevention strategies such as maintaining adequate lighting, removal of obstructions, and removal of rugs may help to prevent a devastating fall. Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol intake to less than 2 drinks per day will go a long way in preventing bone weakness.

Osteoporosis is a silent condition with no warning signs. Very frequently the first indication of the disease is a fracture itself. Marked height loss over years may be a sign of underlying vertebral compression fracture in advanced stages of osteoporosis.

It is imperative that menopausal women become knowledgeable of disease risk and take proactive steps to deter these debilitating conditions. Once this knowledge is obtained, seek a health care provider who is willing to assist you in maintaining a healthy, active, happy quality of life.

 

 

Ms. Autry earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Jacksonville State University, her Masters of Science degree in nursing from the University of Alabama Huntsville, and her PhD from Walden University. Her research dissertation was entitled Pelvic muscle strengthening: Impact on sexual functioning in the menopausal woman. Ms. Autry is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Nursing Credentialing Center, and the Certification Board for Urological Nurses and Associates. She has completed multiple postgraduate preceptor programs in female sexual medicine, pelvic pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Ms. Autry is an active member of the Society of Urological Nurse Associates, North American Menopause Society, American Urological Society, and the International Pelvic Pain Society and founder of two women's health support groups. She is a national and local speaker for multiple pharmaceutical and medical companies, has participated in clinical trial studies, and has published articles in the Society of Urological Nurse Associate and North American Menopause Society journals.

 

Mickie Griffith-Autry, PhD, NP-C

 

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