Women usually experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and fatigue when entering the early stages of menopause. What women are not prepared for are the potential risky conditions that menopause brings. "Estrogen protects a number of systems in the body—the brain, the skin, the vagina, the bones, the heart," said Michelle Warren, MD, medical director of the Center for Menopause, Hormonal Disorders and Women's Health based in New York City. Once estrogen is taken away from the body, there will be consequences that the body would account for. Among these conditions are the following:
Gout is a form of arthritis that happens when uric acid builds up in the blood and causes joint inflammation. Before menopause, estrogen helps the kidneys excrete uric acid; after menopause, when estrogen dips, uric acid levels tend to creep up. At this point, the painful crystals start to form. Intake of food that are high in uric acid like red meat, processed foods, sugary beverages and alcohol can increase the chances of gout. But with proper medication and proper diet symptoms of gout can be controlled.
- Joint Pain
Experiencing joint pain might be a cause of aging but cases of joint pain tend to increase during menopause. Hormone changes might be the reason why there is inflammation. "Estrogens have an anti-inflammatory effect, so when the body is deprived of estrogen, there's a greater inflammatory response," Warren explained.
- Urinary Tract Infections
Estrogen also plays a role in the urinary system. It maintains elasticity in the tissues and strengthens the cells of the bladder wall to prevent bacteria from entering. There is a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTI) when estrogen levels drop. To help prevent UTI, drink plenty of fluids and avoid colored drinks.
- Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is the thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to your body having less estrogen. Women with this condition experience painful intercourse, itching, vaginal burning, urinary function problems, and vaginal infections.
- Autoimmune Conditions
Postmenopausal women are more vulnerable to autoimmune conditions than men. According to a 2012 study in the journal Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology, there is a risk of developing autoimmune diseases like lupus, arthritis, and scleroderma after menopause.
The risk of having diabetes after menopause rise when hormonal changes and the effects of aging work against the body. "Low estrogen can increase insulin resistance and trigger cravings that lead to weight gain, which ups your chances of developing diabetes," says Warren.
- Gum Disease
Postmenopausal women tend to have significant bone loss and eventually also their teeth. Lower estrogen levels cause inflammatory changes in the body that can lead to gingivitis, a sign of the early stages of gum disease.
Patz, A. (2015, February 24). 8 Surprising Conditions Postmenopausal Women Are At Risk For. Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.prevention.com/health/side-effects-menopause.