By David M. Shobin, MD, Eastern Long Island Hospital
I regularly receive questions from women who are concerned with the basics of gynecological care during their peri-menopausal and post-menopausal years. Though individual factors can vary greatly, healthy women who are of post-childbearing age should visit their gynecologist about every two years. And generally, these visits should focus on the three most important health issues for women in this age group: cancer prevention, osteoporosis and quality of life concerns.
Cancer prevention is of extreme importance during the years that follow menopause. In fact, there are a number of malignancies that occur primarily during these years – such as cancer of the uterus, breast cancer and colon cancer. Routine exams that can help prevent and/or detect cancer in its earliest stages are necessary. All women over the age of 40 should have an annual mammogram and women over the age of 50 should be sure to have an annual colonoscopy.
Osteoporosis, the condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, is also a major concern for women during the post-menopause years. When diagnosed, osteoporosis is both preventable and treatable. It is vital that all women have a bone density test to measure bone loss at the age of 65. Following the first test at 65, the screening should be made a part of a routine physical exam each year.
Quality of life concerns are also leading for women during these “golden years.” Problems such as incontinence and prolapse (the lowering of the uterus) are both common and incredibly uncomfortable. However, there are many simple procedures that can help ease the symptoms of these conditions and allow you to again enjoy life. Technology is constantly changing in women’s health and there is no reason to suffer in silence with conditions that hinder the joys of daily living.
I also tell my patients to remember that gynecologists are experts at coordinating the care of women based on individual needs. We can be your primary referring source for a variety of health issues. Use your gynecologist as a sounding board and discuss any and all health issues and concerns - physical, emotional and social.
This information is provided by David M. Shobin, MD, a board certified gynecologist at Eastern Long Island Hospital. Dr. Shobin has office hours by appointment at the ELIH Gladys Brooks Medical Village in Greenport. To schedule an appointment, call 631-477-1058. Or call 631-477-5164 for your free guide to Women’s Health Tests and Screenings.