8 Health Problems For Women To Take Care And Look Out For Upon Reaching Menopause

Date January 23, 2018

The physical changes which occur before and during menopause can be bothersome, but they're a normal part of this transition. However, the risk of suffering from more severe complications increases after arriving at this stage, because estrogen levels fall significantly. This is the hormone which regulates many bodily processes, including cortisol and androgen levels. It also plays a role in bone development, blood clotting, and even certain brain functions.

The following complications are associated with menopause, although don't tend to be the only cause, since normal aging also increases the risk of developing these medical problems.

1. Sleep apnea

According to Dr. Sara Nowakowski, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas, women are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea after menopause than before it. This condition, in which sufferers stop breathing for several seconds while they sleep, makes it difficult to feel well rested. It also increases the risk of suffering from diabetes, stroke, and other health problems.

2. Osteoporosis

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Unfortunately, the longer the body goes without menstruation, the higher is the risk of suffering from osteoporosis and fractures. This is because estrogen plays an important role in maintaining bone density. Between 20 and 30% of bone mass loss in women occurs during the first five years following menopause.

3. Weight gain

Weight gain, especially around the abdomen, is common in women of menopause age. The increase in abdominal fat is particularly dangerous since it also increases the risk of suffering a heart attack. That's why it's so important to reduce calorie intake, eat a balanced diet, and take time to exercise.

4. Heart problems

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Estrogen produced by the ovaries before menopause brings with it powerful protection for the heart: It increases HDL cholesterol (also known as 'good cholesterol') which dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow and prevent high blood pressure. This is why the marked reduction in estrogen production after menopause increases the risk of heart problems. One in eight women between the ages of 45 and 64 have some kind of heart problem, and this number jumps to one in four women over the age of 65, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the USA.

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5. Diabetes

Low estrogen levels can affect your hormones, specifically the stress hormone, cortisol, and the hunger hormone, ghrelin. As the levels of these hormones fluctuate, so does the insulin level. With constant changes in appetite and blood sugar level, two things happen to the body: intensified cravings for sweets and higher resistance to insulin.

6. Autoimmune diseases

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Do you feel tired, in a bad mood, or have hot flushes? All of these are normal symptoms of menopause, but could also be signs of autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, according to Mindy S. Christianson, assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Johns Hopkins University's Faculty of Medicine.

Again, estrogen is to blame: The changes in this hormone can cause excessive inflammation in the body, and this affects certain bodily systems.

7. Liver disease

The reduction of estrogen and advanced age strike again. It's difficult for the liver to repair itself from damage caused by the toxic effects of substances, infections, or excess fat.

8. Urinary problems /

Urinary incontinence is particularly common after menopause. This is probably due to thinning of the urethra (caused by reduced estrogen levels), as well as weakened pevlic floor muscles (as a result of childbirth, for example), according to Dr. JoAnn V. Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

During this time, you're also more likely to suffer from recurring urinary tract infections (UTI), according to a study by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Washington. This is because estrogen also helps to keep bacteria at bay.

Healthy lifestyle changes are essential for preventing most complications associated with menopause. It's also important to schedule regular visits with your doctor throughout the menopause process. He or she will control your symptoms carefully to make sure that your transition through this difficult phase is as healthy and smooth as possible.

Sources: Prevention, Reader's Digest, Endocrineweb

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not treat yourself, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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