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Menopause, Symptoms of menopause, and the Metabolic Syndrome: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

Review on February 02, 2010

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Menopause is an inevitable stage in every woman's life. A significant time marking the end of the reproductive cycle, menopause and the symptoms of menopause impact greatly on the daily life of middle-aged women. As well as numerous symptoms of menopause, which can often be embarrassing and uncomfortable, menopause has been linked to an increased risk in cardiovascular disease and Metabolic Syndrome. This study explores such theories and analyzes the impact of menopause and the symptoms of menopause on testosterone levels.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death of women in the Western world, and women over 55 years are more likely than men to have CVD. For this reason, many scientists argue that changes in natural hormones during menopause and the symptoms of menopause can increase the risk of CVD, as well as normal aging.

This study aimed to establish whether the risk of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) increased with menopause and the symptoms of menopause, independent of age and other factors. It was also designed to test the premise that natural hormones like testosterone can develop MetS.

Menopause and the symptoms of menopause greatly affect the female body and how it functions. During menopause levels of natural hormones in the body alter. The most important of these natural hormones are estradiol and testosterone. Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein that binds testosterone and estradiol and sends them to the necessary organs, though this binding favors testosterone.

Metabolic Syndrome affects 20% to 30% of middle-aged women and has been linked to the growth of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Menopausal status and the symptoms of menopause have been linked to elements of the MetS, but such results are somewhat unreliable.

Menopause-related testosterone and prevalence seems to be a key natural hormone change that affects Metabolic Syndrome, besides aging and other CVD risk factors.

menopause fatness

Prior to this investigation, it was believed that the natural hormone estrogen had a direct, positive impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease in women, an effect that was lost as they moved from a premenopausal to a postmenopausal state, and experienced the loss of the natural hormone estrogen. Yet, previous data demonstrates that changes in natural hormone estrogen levels do not significantly affect the risk of MetS in women.

This particular study is a longitudinal examination involving the largest group of middle-aged menopausal women with symptoms of menopause to date. It indicates that the occurrence of Metabolic Syndrome greatly increases during the perimenopausal and early postmenopausal years, independent of aging and other known CVD risk factors, including weight gain and smoking.

This study suggests that natural hormones like testosterone and Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) are able to independently increase the risk of CVD. Menopause causes many side effects and there are many symptoms of menopause. A decrease in estrogen levels and the dominance of testosterone results in a greater risk of Metabolic Syndrome. This is one way in which the risk of cardiovascular disease increases during menopause and the symptoms of menopause. However, it is worth noting that further exploration into such theories is needed.

Sources:
  • JAMA - The Journal of the American Medical Association - Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(14):1568-1575.