As women age, our health needs change. As we enter our 60s and beyond, it’s important to be aware of our increased risk for certain health conditions such as heart disease, urinary incontinence, and osteoporosis. Having a regular check-up with your gynecologist is critical to discuss your changing health needs and to stay on-top of the important screenings and preventive care you need.
Here are five things that senior women should discuss with their gynecologist:
- Heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. While women can develop heart disease at any age, there is a heightened risk after menopause. It is important for women to talk to their gynecologist about their risk for heart disease and to get regular screenings, such as cholesterol checks and blood pressure checks. Fortunately, several lifestyle adjustments can also help to reduce a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease such as eating a healthy diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, exercising regularly, and not smoking.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and brittle. It is more common in women than in men, especially after menopause. Osteoporosis can lead to bone fractures, which can be painful and debilitating. You can help to protect your bones by taking in enough calcium, magnesium and vitamin D in your diet and engaging in weight-bearing exercises. Screening is another important tool for measuring the strength of our bones and helping to detect any potential bone loss before it leads to a serious fracture. A bone density screening is the only test that can actually diagnose osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. It’s recommended that women over the age of 65 or who have an increased risk-factor for osteoporosis receive this screening.
- Sexual health. Sexual health is important for women of all ages. As women age, we can experience changes in our sexual health, such as vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and pain during intercourse. These things are nothing to be ashamed of, and are treatable! There are a number of things that women can do to improve their sexual health, such as talking to their gynecologist about their concerns, using lubricants, and potentially exploring treatments like hormone replacement therapy.
- Cancer screening. About 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. Unfortunately, the primary risk factors for breast cancer include simply being a woman and getting older. For women at average risk, meaning you do not have a personal history or strong family history of breast cancer, it’s recommended that you receive an annual mammogram starting at age 40 through age 75 if you are in good health. We’re here to support you in making caring for your breast health as convenient as possible. Many of our care centers now offer in-suite 3D mammography or are located within a short drive to an Axia Women’s Health mammography center. Click here for more information on our imaging locations.
- Urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence or bladder leakage is a common condition affecting 1 in 3 women. After menopause, it’s common for women to experience vaginal atrophy, or a thinning and weakening of the vaginal tissue. A drop in estrogen can cause a shortening of the vaginal canal, a shortening of the urethra, and a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, making loss of bladder control more common. While it may feel taboo to discuss, it’s important to remember you’re not alone. Your Axia Women’s Health provider can help you explore treatment options from lifestyle modifications to pelvic floor physical therapy, to other pharmaceutical treatments or surgery.
As women are living longer, well into our golden years, it’s important that we feel our best while doing so. Keeping in touch with your Axia Women’s Health provider can help you manage your health and enjoy this next chapter in your life!