Menopause occurs naturally to all women. However, the female body experiences different health changes during the process and even after.
Some changes in the body are unavoidable such as the effects of old age. One of these inevitable effects, specifically in a woman's body is menopause. According to Medical News Today, menopause is the process through which a woman ceases to menstruate, thus stopping her ability to give birth. In the US, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51 years. Though this is a natural process, the body undergoes drastic changes that can lead to numerous health issues. Here are a few that you can watch out for during and after menopause:
Women who began their menopause before the age of 46 and after the age of 55 are prone to developing type 2 diabetes. According to Mayo Clinic, after menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone affect the way the cells respond to insulin. The low level of estrogen in the body will create an increased resistance to insulin and will also trigger cravings in women. Sugar levels may become more variable and unpredictable. Therefore, getting the blood sugar levels checked frequently will help you keep away from complications.
According to research, menopause may affect, or be affected by, the presence of autoimmune diseases. It is also said that women who undergo early menopause may be under a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who experience late menopause. "Women have two X chromosomes and defects in the X chromosome may make some women more susceptible to developing autoimmune disorders," said JoAnn Pinkerton MD, executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) to Reader's Digest. The low levels of estrogen are also pointed out as a factor.
The lack of estrogen due to menopause is said to have negative effects on the liver. According to Cleveland Clinic, fatty liver disease in women can develop into liver cirrhosis especially after hitting menopause. Dr. Wakim-Fleming says that women who hit menopause are likely to gain more weight due to the hormonal changes. "When women gain weight, fat accumulates in the liver cells. This creates a toxic environment for the liver, which leads to fibrosis, then cirrhosis and eventually cancer. Fatty liver is fast becoming the No. 1 reason for a liver transplant."
According to the American Heart Association, more than one in three female adults has some kind of cardiovascular diseases. It also stated that an overall rise in heart attacks are usually observed 10 years after menopause. However, it is important to note that menopause does not cause heart diseases. But, the risk of getting heart diseases increases around the time of menopause. The decline of the female hormone estrogen that is believed to have a positive effect on the inner line of the artery wall may also be a factor for the increase in heart diseases among post-menopausal women.
Menopause is associated with problems in women's urinary functions. According to the Department of Urogynecology at the University of Colorado, the lack of estrogen in the female body reduces the capacity of the urinary tract to control the urine. It is also caused due to the effects of menopause on the organs and tissues present at the pelvic region. Women also experience other urinary issues such as urinary tract infections, dryness, and itching in the vagina and the need to urinate frequently.
Women become susceptible to periodontal disease after menopause. Just like how the process weakens the bones in the spine and hips, it also leads to the loss of the alveolar bone present in the jaws. This results in periodontal disease, loose teeth, and tooth loss, according to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. "Many postmenopausal women note dry mouth, pain, or burning in the gum tissue as well as altered taste for salty, peppery, or sour foods,” said Pinkerton to Reader's Digest.
The disease that is associated with the weakening of bones resulting in unexpected fractures has a strong relation with menopause. The lack of estrogen during perimenopause and postmenopause can lead to osteoporosis. According to WebMed, a woman who undergoes early menopause that is before the age of 45 experience loss of bone mass. Reader's Digest also stated that about 20 to 30 percent of bone loss occurs in women within the first five years of menopause.
Menopause itself does not cause cancer. However, there is an increased risk of cancer once you hit menopause especially if you started menopause after the age of 55. According to MD Anderson Centre, such women are at an increased risk of breast cancer. It states that it might be due to the overexposure to estrogen hormone.