What You Can Do Now To Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens our bones and leaves us at high risk for fractures. When someone has osteoporosis, the spaces inside the bones lose strength and density, and the outer parts of the bone become thin and weak. Hip, spine, and wrist fractures are among the most common.

What You Can Do Now To Prevent Osteoporosis

As you get older, your risk of osteoporosis increases. But this isn’t an illness that only affects the elderly—it can actually strike at any age. In fact, osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease because it slowly weakens bones over time, leaving many unaware of its presence until experiencing a broken bone. If your doctor lets you know your bone mass is lower than it should be (this is sometimes referred to as osteopenia), you’re going to want to incorporate some diet and lifestyle changes to strengthen your bones and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.

Whether your bones are healthy now or have started to show signs of osteopenia or osteoporosis, it’s never too late to be proactive about your bone health. No matter how old or young you may be, there’s a lot you can do to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Here are a few areas to focus on:

Exercise
Exercise is crucial to keeping your bones healthy and strong, while also strengthening your muscles and improving balance, all of which are important for preventing injury and avoiding falls. A good rule of thumb here is to make a routine of doing weight-bearing and resistance exercises somewhere around three to four days a week or more. You have a lot of options for weight-bearing exercise, including walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, yoga, and stair-climbing. For strength and resistance training you can use free weights, weight machines, elastic resistance bands, push-ups and other exercises that use your own bodyweight, or even exercise in water.

Eat right
To protect your body against osteoporosis, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral that helps the body build and maintain strong bones. If there isn’t enough calcium in your diet, your body may take calcium from your bones, which can weaken them and even lead to broken bones. Yogurt, milk, sardines, collard greens, beans, tofu, and whey protein are all great sources of calcium to include in your meals and snacks.

Vitamin D is important to bone health because it helps your body absorb and regulate calcium levels. Salmon and other fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese, and fortified milk are all good sources of vitamin D.

Being underweight puts you at risk for osteoporosis, so you’ll need to make sure you’re eating enough and maintaining a healthy weight. Repeated weight loss and restrictive diets that aren’t high enough in calories, calcium, vitamin D, and protein can stress and weaken your bones.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying active are all important in lowering your risk of osteoporosis. You’ll also want to stay away from smoking and heavy drinking, as drinking more than two alcoholic drinks each day and smoking both put you at risk for bone loss.

Pay attention to risk factors
Some factors increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • A family history of osteoporosis or broken bones
  • Early menopause
  • Breaking a bone after age 50
  • Long periods of physical inactivity or bed rest
  • Smoking
  • Having a small frame

It’s important to speak with your doctor about these risk factors and to make an effort to incorporate healthy practices that might minimize your risk of developing the disease.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Your Menstrual Cycle: An Overview

What is the menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is a monthly hormonal cycle the body goes through as it prepares for the possibility of pregnancy. The average young woman typically starts menstruating about two years after her breasts begin to develop and pubic hair starts to grow, which is often around age 12, but can be a few years earlier or later.

Your Menstrual Cycle: An Overview

Understanding how the menstrual cycle works is important for women of all ages for a number of reasons, including helping you get pregnant, avoiding getting pregnant, understanding when something may be wrong, and managing menstrual symptoms.

How long does a menstrual cycle last?
Your menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends the first day your next menstrual period arrives. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but the exact length will vary between women or even change from month to month for the same person. If your periods come somewhere between every 24 to 38 days, your cycle is considered regular, but if your cycle is longer or shorter, it’s a good idea to speak with your physician to find out what’s going on.

What is ovulation?
Ovulation is a process that occurs in the middle of your cycle, usually near the 14th day. At this time, one of the ovaries releases an egg so that it can be fertilized by sperm and lead to pregnancy. You’re most likely to get pregnant in the three days leading up to and including ovulation. If the egg isn’t fertilized, the uterine lining sheds and you’ll get your menstrual period. It’s not uncommon to experience a bit of discomfort during ovulation, such as pain in the lower abdomen and some spotting or bleeding, but some women don’t experience any symptoms.

What happens during menstruation?
Menstruation is the part of your menstrual cycle when the endometrium that lines the uterus is shed and you get your period. This happens when an egg from your previous cycle isn’t fertilized and levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone drop. The low hormone levels let your body know that it no longer needs a thick uterine lining to support pregnancy, and then sheds this blood, mucus, and tissue from the uterus through the vagina.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Exercises for Increased Pleasure in the Bedroom

By now nearly everyone knows exercise is a key component to staying healthy, but did you know that you may want to add vaginal strengthening exercises into the mix? Targeting your pelvic floor muscles, vaginal exercises can improve your sex life while also protecting your body against urinary incontinence, which is when you lose control of your bladder.

Exercises for Increased Pleasure in the Bedroom

Some women are drawn to vaginal exercises after childbirth, as their vagina loses some of its natural elasticity with age, or simply to improve their experience during sex. Whatever your reason, incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your routine will strengthen and tone these important muscles and may make it easier to for you to achieve orgasm and also kick-up the intensity of those orgasms.  Here are a few pelvic floor exercises recommended:

Kegels
Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor. Besides making it easier for you achieve orgasm, kegels can also help your body increase vaginal wetness, relax your vaginal muscles, strengthen against urinary incontinence, and improve circulation to the pelvic floor and vagina.

How to do kegels: After emptying your bladder, contract your pelvic floor muscles (think of the muscles deep in your vagina that you use to stop urinating) for five to 10 seconds. Release the contraction and keep your muscles completely relaxed for five to 10 seconds. Make sure you relax your muscles for at least the same amount of time that they were contracted.  Repeat the cycle at least three times, and do this exercise somewhere between three and five times each day. As you do more kegels and your muscles strengthen over time, it’s a good idea to contract your muscles for longer periods, up to 20 seconds.

Squats
Squats strengthen your pelvic floor muscles while also working many other important muscles like your glutes, quadriceps, and your core.

How to do squats: Standing against a wall with your feet separated about shoulder width apart, lower yourself until your thighs become close to parallel with the floor, hold for ten seconds while being mindful to engage your pelvic floor muscles, and then stand back up. Start with one set of ten repetitions and work your way up to two or three sets over time, depending on your physical ability.

Vaginal cone exercises
A vaginal cone is a device you can use to help with kegels. Most are weighted and about the size of a tampon, though the specifics will vary and many options are available.

How to use a vaginal cone: You’ll want to follow the specific directions for the product you purchase, but most involve placing the device in your vagina, contracting your pelvic floor muscles for 15 seconds or so, and then releasing.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.