Intimate Health: Important Discussions
Today, it is not uncommon for older women to have to deal with contraception issues, body image problems, menopause and sexual health difficulties. While young girls can go to mom to talk about changing bodies and the birds and the bees, older women should to be a little more proactive about getting the answers to questions about sensitive and intimate health issues.
Most women spend about three decades preventing pregnancy. That means that for most females, they start birth control in their 20s to 30s and use it until their 50s or longer. For women who know they won't be having any more children, permanent birth control is a very good option.
In past decades, those who wanted to prevent pregnancy this way were forced to have an extraordinarily invasive surgical procedure. A hysterectomy is a surgery in which your sex organs are removed. Today, women have two much better choices. Non-surgical sterilization is a process in which your doctor will place a micro-insert into your fallopian tube, causing tissues to block the artery leading to your egg. Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure in which your surgeon will tie or block your fallopian tube with a clamp, preventing sperm access to the egg.
Sure your mother went through menopause, but even that right of passage is different today than it was just 50 years ago. Not only do doctors understand the process better, but improved hormone treatments have also made menopause much less traumatic and disruptive. Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is the most effective treatment for night sweats and hot flashes, according to WomensHealth.gov. MHT also reduces vaginal discomfort, such as dryness and pain during sex. It slows bone loss and can also ease mood swings and depression. Low-dose oral contraceptives are also known to ease hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. For women who prefer going with all natural remedies, an over-the-counter, water-based lubricant or vaginal moisturizer helps ease symptoms of vaginal dryness. By upping physical activity during the day, menopausal women can also reduce sleeplessness.
One thing that young women and older women have in common more than anything else is poor body image. According to research by the University of Florida IFAS Extension, older women, while less exposed to media images that could trigger feelings of image inadequacy, still feel concerns about conforming to society's standards of beauty. Older women are still prone to dieting, exercising and use of supplements for the purposes of weight control. In fact, women over the age of 65 still report dissatisfaction with body image at levels similar to women in their 20s.
When it comes to living happy and healthy at any age, it's important to surround yourself with people who provide emotional support, whether with kind words or gestures of affection. And because so many women are living late into their golden years, it's less of a stigma to talk about normal characteristics of aging, whether it's caring for sagging skin, incontinence or problems with intimate health.
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