Finding solutions for menopause and good habits in the years ahead for women in their 50s

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Finding solutions for menopause and good habits for women in their 50s
Finding solutions for menopause and good habits for women in their 50s

MEDIA. Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- From Kelly Ripa to Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez - women in their 50s are showing they can be at the top of their game at any age.

But that takes good health. There are some important do's and don'ts for living well now, and far into the future.

Paid Sponsorship with Main Line Health

"The hot flashes were absolutely the worst," says Beth Savitz about her menopause experience.

Beth says it really threw her for a loop and good sleep was hard to get before menopause.

"And it just got worse. I would get up at one or two and be up until it was time to get up," she says.

Caffeine became the thing that kept her going through work days.

"Coffee in the morning, energy drinks in the afternoon," she notes.

A friend suggested Dr. Patricia Ischiropoulos, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Main Line Health. Dr. Ish, as patients call her, explained a wide range of options.

After sleep medications failed, Beth tried hormone replacement.

"How soon after the patch did you start feeling better?" Dr. Ischiropoulos asks.

The says there are also hormone-free options available, including the new drug Veozah.

In addition to hot flashes and trouble sleeping, menopause can cause joint pain, changes in the hair, weight gain - and difficulty shedding it.

"And the weight gain tends to be deposited more in the midsection, which is just where every woman wants it," the doctor says sarcastically.

The loss of estrogen also poses two bigger concerns: The risk of heart disease goes up, while bone mass goes down.

"It's all about your bone health and your heart health," says Dr. Ish.

So it's even more important to get 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise, like walking, at least 5 days a week. And make every calorie of your diet count.

"More fruits, more vegetables, lean proteins, more whole foods, less processed things," says the doctor.

And limit caffeine and alcohol. Both can add to sleep problems.

"A lot of women like to have some wine with dinner, and that can have a rebound effect in disturbing your sleep cycle and waking you up," Dr. Ischiropoulos notes.

Dr. Ischiropoulos reminds patients, "We're going to spend about a third of our lifetime in menopause. So I always tell my patients, it's important to play the long game, not the short game. Sometimes these symptoms can last months, sometimes a few years, and we're learning now they can even last up to a decade."

With the patch, Beth says hot flashes are gone and it's been months since the last one. Also, running in the morning, instead of the evening, keeps her bones strong and has other benefits.

"It helps manage the weight gain, for sure. And the stress," she notes, adding. "In the past 12 months, I've lost 12 pounds."

"It's really important to develop those good habits now. So that you have them moving forward," says Dr. Ischiropoulos.