Menopause Facts to Know

Menopause Fact 1. By the year 2030, 1.2 billion women in the world are expected to be age 50 and older.

Menopause Fact 2. Before they turn 50, women have three times less risk of heart attacks than men. Ten years after menopause, when women are about 60, their heart attack risks increase to equal men's risks. Women can protect themselves against heart disease by not smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Menopause Fact 3. Osteoporosis — a disease in which bones become thin, brittle and more likely to fracture — will affect one in four women after menopause.

Menopause Fact 4. In a 1998 Gallup survey sponsored by the North American Menopause Society, more than half (51 percent) of American women between the ages 50 and 65 who had reached menopause said they are happiest and most fulfilled now, as compared to when they were in their 20s (10 percent), 30s (17 percent) or 40s (16 percent).

Menopause Fact 5. The same Gallup poll revealed that 16 percent of women surveyed said their sexual relationship had gotten better since menopause, while 17 percent said it had gotten worse and more than half (51 percent) said it had remained unchanged.

Menopause Fact 6. Most women in the 1998 Gallup poll said they discussed menopause with a friend or someone from their own generation, compared to a smaller percentage who said they discussed it with someone from their mother's or daughter's generation.

Menopause Fact 7. A diet high in soy has been shown in some studies to decrease postmenopausal hot flashes.

Menopause Fact 8. Some women continue to experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms as they approach menopause. These symptoms can include swollen or tender breasts, bloating, nausea and moodiness.

Menopause Fact 9. Fertility decreases gradually as menopause approaches. However, you can still get pregnant, even if your periods are irregular. The second highest unintended pregnancy rate is for women between the ages of 40 to 44. Thus, the need for reliable contraception remains important.

Menopause Fact 10. As estrogen levels decline, vaginal tissue and tissue in the lower urinary tract become thinner, drier and less supple, which can cause painful intercourse, as well as more frequent urinary tract infections. Osteoporosis and heart disease are other consequences of declining estrogen levels in the decades following menopause.

Copyright 2003 National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC)

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