Nature decreed that at the age of 45-50, biological changes begin in a woman’s body. They are caused by the gradual extinction of the function of the most important female gland – the ovaries. The loss of follicles in the ovaries begins already at about 37 years of age. For comparison: if a newborn girl has about a million of them in the ovaries, then by menopause – no more than a thousand.
However, with the extinction of the reproductive function, life does not end. Moreover, recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine proved that in the period from 60 to 80 years a person begins the most productive period of life, these two decades are called the peak of a person’s intellectual and emotional potential. And yet we cannot write off the fact that after 50 years the risk of developing a number of diseases, which today are called chronic non-communicable diseases, increases. These include diseases of the heart and blood vessels, respiratory system (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), oncological pathologies, diseases of the musculoskeletal system. In women, their risk increases, including due to the decrease in hormonal levels caused by menopause.
During this period, the production of sex hormones – progesterone and estrogens – decreases in the female body. It can be said that after 50, a difficult biological exam takes place in a woman’s life: everything that has been hidden so far is revealed, and what was chronic is aggravated.
First of all, the risk of developing or worsening the course of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) increases. For example, it is generally accepted that men suffer from CVD more often. But this is not entirely true: with the onset of menopause, the prevalence of heart and vascular diseases among women becomes almost the same as among men, and in some positions even higher. After all, women lose the natural hormonal protection that has helped prevent them for many years.
In addition to the cardiovascular system, in a woman over the age of 50, the musculoskeletal system becomes especially vulnerable. The reason is that, due to biological processes in the body, an intensive leaching of calcium from the bones begins – therefore, women are at increased risk of fractures. Unfortunately, many representatives of the beautiful half of humanity learn about the diagnosis of “osteoporosis” after a fracture, because this disease tends to proceed in a latent form for years. Therefore, women after 50 years of age must undergo a study of bone mineral density, which is called densitometry. With age, the risk of developing cancer also increases. In the structure of female oncological morbidity, breast cancer and cervical cancer have taken the first places today.
The good news is that if caught early, they are almost completely treatable. For example, breast cancer detected at an early stage is curable in 94% of cases. Therefore, I recommend undergoing an annual medical examination, which today includes oncoscreening for the seven most common oncopathologies. And the simplest screening included in the program of clinical examination and medical examinations – measuring blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood – will show whether there is a risk of heart and vascular disease.
In addition to biological causes, your lifestyle and your habits are of great importance in the development of any chronic non-communicable disease. We should not forget about the risk factors for their occurrence, and these are unhealthy diet, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, bad habits, high blood cholesterol, arterial hypertension. But all these risk factors are removable! For example, everyone knows that smoking is harmful.
Also, watch your diet and water intake. The diet should contain as little as possible industrial products (trans fats, semi-finished products, store sauces, confectionery). It is important to eat sea fish – a source of healthy polyunsaturated fats, lean meat – a source of protein, grains and legumes, fresh vegetables and fruits.
During the period of self-isolation, it has become more difficult for many to make time for physical activity, but it should be present in your life. And it is not necessary to chase sports records. A half-hour charge in the morning is enough. Walking in the fresh air is very useful: get into the habit of walking every day, even if the weather does not please you. In the process of walking (and any physical activity), the hormones of joy endorphins are released, which are also of great importance for maintaining health. It’s never too late to start exercising!
Studies have shown that if at the age of 55 years and older, even after menopause, a woman begins to engage in physical activity and spends 30 minutes on herself 3 times a week, she lives 7 years longer.
And it is also very important to try to remain optimistic and enjoy life. Unfortunately, aggressive and suspicious people have a higher risk of death from all causes than those who are looking for positive aspects in everything. So look for the good in everything! Well, if something bothers you, do not waste time: consult a doctor.