After a woman reaches menopause she is vulnerable to a range of long-term health risks due to the loss of estrogen. Effects of menopause on a menopausal woman’s health are discussed below.
Effect on mental health: Estrogen shows certain properties that protect against memory loss and helps in mental functioning as a woman ages. Estrogen may affect the brain as follows:
o Estrogen helps in growth of nerve pathways in memory portion of brain.
o Estrogen helps in reducing the risk of Alzheimer disease by stimulating production of neurotransmitters, eliminates free oxygen radicals that play a role in Alzheimer and blocks production of beta-amyloid which is also associated with Alzheimer.
o Estrogen also opens the blood vessels which lead to better flow of blood to the brain.
Effect on Bone Density: Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile as they lose density and after menopause resorption (break-down of bones) gets faster. This may increase a woman’s chance of getting osteoporosis. Estrogen is believed to have an impact in two following ways:
o Estrogens are believed to control the life of osteoclasts which are responsible for resorption.
o Estrogens also maintain levels of vitamin D which is an important nutrient for bone protection.
Effect on Heart: Menopausal women face a higher risk of heart diseases. This is blamed at the fall in estrogen levels which help in:
o Maintaining cholesterol levels.
o Smoothing and opening of blood vessels which help in normal flow of blood and reducing pressure.
o Reducing oxygen free radicals which can damage arteries.
Urinary Tract Effects: After menopause women are at an increased risk of getting urinary tract infections due to fall in estrogen levels. Estrogen helps in resisting the infection by increasing the number of microorganisms that fight the bacteria trying to adhere to vaginal cells.
Other Effects: Sleep disorders, gum disorders and tooth loss, eye disorders, wrinkles and incontinence are other health effects that are caused by fall in estrogen levels brought about by menopause. Estrogens prevent eye disorders such as cataract, glaucoma and macular degeneration. They also prevent against stress. Research shows that fall in estrogens make it more likely for a woman to have gum disorder and tooth loss. Further, estrogens also prevent slackness in the skin caused by excessive fat.
Menopause is a natural transition which, if not properly dealt with, may lead to some long-term health detriments.
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