Menopause is the name for the stage of life in which women stop menstruating and ovulating. It’s the end of reproduction and many women experience symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, and sleeplessness. It’s easy to get the impression that the health effects of menopause are mostly just inconvenient.
Individual experiences vary a lot. Some women have very few symptoms and some are very uncomfortable. However, menopause can also be associated with serious health changes.
The end of estrogen protection
Estrogen also helps regulate and optimize insulin production and use, so it can help to protect against Type 2 diabetes.
Estrogen production decreases and largely ends in perimenopause, so women who have reached menopause do not have the protection estrogen provides for younger women. Many of the health effects of menopause boil down to the end of the health protection provided by estrogen.
The first solution in every case is to pay more attention to lifestyle choices. Good habits of diet and exercise can reduce your chances of heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and Type 2 diabetes. Talk with your doctor about the steps you should take to offset the loss of estrogen protection.
For some women, hormone replacement therapy may also provide a solution. Your gynecologist can give you more information about this option.
Other health changes
Menopause is strongly correlated with weight gain. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis are all more likely in people who are overweight. Since these conditions are also associated with lower levels of estrogen, they can become much more risky for postmenopausal women.
One surprising issue is lead poisoning. The lead a woman has taken in over her lifetime can be stored in her bones. As bones break down after menopause, lead can be released into the bloodstream.
Menopause can also lead to urinary incontinence and urinary track infections. About half of all postmenopausal women experience some bladder issues, from an overactive bladder to stress incontinence.
Menopause is a natural change that comes to all women. This can be a time in your life when you are able to prioritize your own health and wellness, reducing health issues by staying active and enjoying a healthy diet. However, a talk with your doctor can help. Most women don’t discuss menopause with their doctors, but there may be solutions for any problems you have with this stage of life.
Talk to your gynecologist if you are experiencing symptoms of menopause.