For every woman, menopause is a significant time that involves a series of physiological changes. The series of symptoms or changes can vary before, during, or after a woman experiences menopause. The age at which menopause occurs will depend on multiple factors. Race, prior ovulations, lifestyle habits, socioeconomic status, and prior surgeries all influence the onset of menopause.
What Is Post-Menopause?
Menopause marks the cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and post-menopause is the stage after a woman has not had her period for a year or longer. During this stage, a woman has an increased risk of various health complications. The hormones that regulate menstrual cycle also play other roles in the body. The imbalance of these hormones can lower or diminish the body’s defenses. For example, post-menopausal women have an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and several other conditions.
Estrogen levels drop significantly in a woman’s post-menopausal years. During menopause, estrogen fluctuates at a wild rate, but levels don’t drop like they do during post-menopause. In addition to estrogen plummets, a post-menopausal woman can experience higher triglyceride, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. It’s good to be mindful of this if you want to combat these bodily changes. Learn more about potential post-menopausal health risks below.
Osteoporosis is the most common worry for women, as it’s possible to lose 25% of bone density after menopause. A 2017 study confirmed that women are four times as likely as men to develop the condition. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to thin and the change in bone density can increase the risk of bone fractures. The most common areas that experience fractures or breaks include the hips, wrists, and spine. It’s wise to make lifestyle adjustment to get ahead of the condition, and you can speak to your doctor or nutritionist about the right steps to take.
This may not seem like a health risk, but an inability to control weight can lead to other, more serious conditions. The altered hormone levels negatively impact a woman’s metabolism, which can cause the body to easily gain fat. It’s also common for a woman with a slower metabolism to lose lean tissue mass as well. Menopausal belly fat can be more serious than an eyesore. More fat around the midsection increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, and a recent study found that it also increases the risk of heart disease. If you need help losing that menopausal muffin top, click here.
The tissues in the urethra and bladder contain estrogen and progesterone receptors. The tissues are naturally thickened by both of those hormones. When those levels drop after menopause, the tissues become thin and weak. This is why post-menopausal women can commonly experience urinary incontinence. Stress-related urinaryincontinence is quite common, and it can occur when sneezing, coughing, or during physical activity. Some research, however, states that urinaryincontinence is more of an age-related problem than a post-menopausal issue. That being said, many researchers claim that estrogen plays a role in urinaryincontinence.
It’s common for women to think that breast cancer is the biggest threat to their health, but life after menopause involves a serious risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about one-third of women develop cardiovascular disease. The risk of heart attack increases for women about a decade after menopause. One of the primary reasons for this is because estrogen levels drop. Estrogen maintains blood vessel flexibility, helping vessels contract and expand to aid optimal blood flow. This flexibility diminishes post-menopause, which can cause a rise in blood pressure and thicker arterial walls. You can take control of this by following a heart-healthy diet, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly.
Urinary Tract Infection
The decline of estrogen after menopause can cause vaginal tissue to become dry and thin. This occurrence can make it easier for bacteria to thrive, which increases the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). Ultimately, a woman’s risk of a UTI will depend on individual lifestyle factors. A 2019 study found that the risk of UTI doubled for women over age 65, and 10% of post-menopausal women reported a UTI within the past year. While UTIs naturally increase with age, overall health can increase or decrease the risk of getting one.