Secondary Health Concerns Associated With Menopause

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“Menopause simply refers to a woman’s ending of menstruation. Commonly the term is used to refer to the entire span of time during which ovarian function declines and menstruation stops. This time period is normally years in duration, generally encompassing ages 45-55. Sometime around forty, a woman might notice that her period is different – how long it lasts, how much she bleeds, or how often it happens may not be the same. Or, without warning, she might find herself feeling very warm during the day or in the middle of the night.

Osteoporosis and cardiovascular (heart disease) are two common health problems among others that can start to happen at menopause.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis means porous bones. Day in and day out, a woman’s body is busy breaking down old bone and replacing it with new healthy bone. Estrogen helps control bone loss. This is a gradual process of aging, but it’s noticed most dramatically at menopause when estrogen levels drop. So losing estrogen around the time of menopause causes women to begin to lose more bone than is replaced. In time, bones can become significantly more brittle and, at the same time, take on a honeycomb quality, making them much more susceptible to breakage. A bone density test may be necessary to find out if a woman is at risk of this problem.

Heart Disease

After menopause, women are more likely to have heart disease which is the number one cause of death in post-menopausal women. Although men tend to have heart attacks during their 40s, women seldom do because of the protective effect of their estrogen prior to menopause. Estrogen and progesterone both influence a woman’s cardiovascular system. As estrogen production declines, bad cholesterol (LDL) tends to increase because blood lipid patterns have changed. Once they lose the protection of estrogen, women are more prone to heart attacks and stroke.

Thus as she ages, she may develop other problems, like high blood pressure or weight gain, that put her at greater risk for heart disease. A woman should ensure to have her blood pressure and levels of triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and total cholesterol checked.

Sex

Menopause does not necessarily affect a woman’s sex drive, which depends on the production of androgens (male hormones) by the adrenal glands and ovaries and does not seem to diminish. She could be less interested or indeed find her sex life improved as fear of pregnancy is removed. In general, if a woman had satisfactory sexual relations before menopause, it is likely she will continue to have them. Some women find their decline in libido may improve with a small dose of testosterone (the male sex hormone), which in women is produced in small amounts by the ovaries and adrenal glands. During post-menopause, with declined ovarian function and estrogen replacement therapy, a woman’s testosterone levels may drop enough to decrease libido.

Secondary Health Concerns Associated With Menopause

Sleep Problems

A woman might start having trouble getting a good night’s sleep. She might not be able to fall asleep easily, or may be waking too early. Night sweats might wake her up. A woman might also have trouble falling back to sleep if she wake up during the night.

Mood Swings and Decreased Concentration

Menopause has been blamed for a number of emotional problems women have, like being more moody, irritable, depressed, or even experience memory losses around the time of menopause. In fact, estrogen and other therapies do not cure clinical depression. The bottom line is that menopause may bring some temporary emotional disequilibrium, but it is a normal, not debilitating, condition. However if a woman finds that she has lost interest in activities in which she took pleasure in previously; has sleep disturbance that is not responsive to estrogen or homeopathic treatment; feels consistently sad or hopeless or unable to concentrate effectively; and/or if someone close to her expresses concern about her mood, then she should seek evaluation for clinical depression.”

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