San Diego Health - Spring 2024


5 Questions to Ask Your Primary Care Provider 1. What preventive care do I need? Immunizations, cancer screenings and preventive care can help ward off disease or detect it early. Your recommended preventive care depends on various factors including your age, medical history and lifestyle. Be honest with your doctor about your diet, exercise, alcohol or substance use and family medical history—these all help determine what is best for you. 2. Do I need to make any lifestyle changes? Again, being transparent with your doctor about your lifestyle is vital to optimal health. Downplaying your alcohol intake or glossing over feelings of depression or anxiety ultimately make it more difficult to get the appropriate care. Your doctor is there to help you, not judge you. 3. What are my biggest health risks? No one wants to think about potential health problems, but it is important to understand if you have an increased risk of any diseases and what to do about it. Heart disease, for example, is the leading cause of death among women; risk factors include age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and early menopause. 4. Should I take supplements? Grocery and drug stores have entire aisles devoted to supplements for joint health, sleep, mood, weight loss, skin care—you name it. Ask your doctor if there are supplements you should be taking, such as calcium and vitamin D, to help prevent bone loss. 5. Should I be concerned about [fill in the blank]? Pain, weird skin spots, digestive issues, hair loss, painful sex—if something is “off” or you’re concerned about it, speak up early in the appointment, even if it seems minor. Where your health is concerned, there are no stupid questions!

Your 50s Plus The average age for menopause— defined as 12 months without a

menstrual period—is 52, but it can vary widely. Estrogen levels drop significantly after menopause, and this decline is associated with changes to weight, hair and

skin, as well as vaginal symptoms and more. “There is a misconception that weight gain in the 50s is related to menopause, but studies have shown this is not true,” says Dr. Mourad. “Midlife weight gain is related more to aging and lifestyle, whereas changes in body composition and fat distribution, such as more fat around the abdomen, are indicative of menopause." Production of collagen, which gives skin its elasticity, drops by about 30% in the first five years post-menopause and continues to fall over the next 20 years. Part of this is due to the decline in estrogen, but genetics, sun exposure, diet and the environment all play a role. “Genitourinary symptoms, including pain with sexual intercourse and more frequent urinary tract infections, affect one in every two women post-menopause,” says Dr. Fainman. “Often women don’t recognize how significant their symptoms are until they talk to me about it.” Estrogen also can affect bone density, so your doctor may recommend a bone density scan at age 65 (or sooner if you have a family history of osteoporosis). Vaccinations and preventive exams remain important into your 60s and 70s. You’ll continue to have Pap tests as recommended until age 65; mammograms and colonoscopies usually end around age 75. “Regardless of your age, if you have concerns about your health, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about them,” says Dr. Mourad. “We have a lot of options and, together, we can find ways to manage them.”

50 s+

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