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Complications of Menopause

Several chronic medical conditions tend to appear after menopause. By becoming aware of the following conditions, you can take steps to help reduce your risk:

Cardiovascular disease. At the same time your estrogen levels decline, your risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women as well as in men. Yet you can do a great deal to reduce your risk of heart disease. These risk-reduction steps include stopping smoking, reducing high blood pressure, getting regular aerobic exercise and eating a diet low in saturated fats and plentiful in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Osteoporosis. During the first few years after menopause, you may lose bone density at a rapid rate, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Postmenopausal women are especially susceptible to fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. That's why it's especially important during this time to get adequate calcium - 1,500 milligrams daily - and vitamin D - 400 to 800 international units daily. It's also important to exercise regularly. Strength training and weight-bearing activities such as walking and jogging are especially beneficial in keeping your bones strong.

Urinary incontinence. As the tissues of your vagina and urethra lose their elasticity, you may experience a frequent, sudden, strong urge to urinate (urge incontinence) or incontinence with coughing, laughing or lifting (stress incontinence).
Weight gain. Many women gain weight during the menopausal transition. You may need to eat less - perhaps as many as 200 to 400 fewer calories a day - and exercise more, just to maintain your current weight.


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