Can an older you be a better you? I think so.
People assume aging and declining go hand in hand. It is normal to age, and we might not be able to prevent it. But with comprehensive midlife care, you can optimize your health.
As an obstetrics and gynecology physician and functional medicine specialist, my goal is to add life to your years by making your health the best it can be.
That’s not to say midlife isn’t challenging. Face it head on with these five secrets to aging well:
1. The first secret is to accept the inevitable. Hormone function does decrease as you age – and that happens to men too. Left unaddressed, declining hormones can affect your overall health.
For that reason, hormone replacement therapy for menopause is often part of midlife care. But the picture is much bigger. A comprehensive approach is important because the health concerns midlife women go beyond menopause and can include:
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Painful periods or abnormal bleeding
- Overactive bladder or bladder leakage
- Diabetes and endocrine disorders
- High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings
- Memory lapses and foggy thinking
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive or discomfort during intercourse
2. Think big when it comes to your health. Rather than suffer with difficult symptoms and conditions, midlife presents an opportunity to address these issues, as well as prevent or manage chronic illnesses. Effective midlife care encompasses nearly all aspects of health and may include:
- Screenings, prevention and treatment of diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease and more.
- Menopausal hormone therapy and wellness strategies for menopause.
- Nutrition and weight reduction strategies to improve health and reduce risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Education, behavior modification and medication for help adjusting to body changes that affect intimacy.
- Lifestyle assessment and strategies for healthy living, including exercise, smoking and alcohol use.
3. Ask for a thorough assessment. Whenever I see a patient for the first time, I start with a complete history and physical and a comprehensive lab panel. I look at everything: the ovaries, the thyroid, the adrenal glands, the pancreas. I look at it all. Once we have a clear picture of your health, we can look at areas where you’re struggling.
4. Consider your options. For some, lifestyle changes are enough to address midlife health issues. It’s always best to optimize diet, exercise and nutrition – the good old fashioned stuff.
Many also need hormonal therapy.
I think that people assume hormones are pills. And in many cases they are. But hormones, whether they be ovarian hormones, thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, are available in a variety of different ways. We have creams and patches, we have vaginal inserts and we have pellets we can place under the skin.
Whatever the form hormone therapy takes, it’s important for women to know that it’s both safe and effective at reducing symptoms like hot flashes, and it protects against bone loss and heart disease.
5. Ask for help. Whether it’s menopausal symptoms, weight gain, decreased energy or a libido that’s gone kaput, my take home message for you is this: Speak up if you’re having problems. We have strategies that can help. And you can feel much better.
Rather than a downhill slide, many women find midlife to be a new beginning marked by increased energy and creativity. In fact, anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “There is no greater power in the world than the zest of a postmenopausal woman.”