What are the complications associated with menopause?
Once you have gone through menopause, the risk of the development of a number of medical conditions increases. Some examples of these include:
- Cardiovascular disease (heart and blood pressure related disease) – As your oestrogen levels begin to decline, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease will increase. The leading cause of death amongst men and women is heart disease. It is therefore vital that you follow a routine of regular exercise, a healthy and nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight. Speak to your doctor or dietitian about your risks and how you can reduce cholesterol levels or your blood pressure should these be an issue.
- Urinary incontinence – In menopause, the tissues of the urethra and vagina will begin to lose their elasticity, as this happens, you may start to experience a sudden, frequent and strong need to urinate. This is sometimes followed by urge incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of your urine, or you may experience the loss of urine through laughing, coughing or even lifting something, this is known as stress incontinence. You may also suffer from UTIs (urinary tract infections) more frequently. It may help if you perform Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor. Using a topical form of vaginal oestrogen may also help in relieving the symptoms of incontinence.
- Sexual dysfunction – Vaginal dryness from loss of tissue elasticity and the decrease in the production of moisture within your body can often result in sexual discomfort and even slight bleeding during intercourse. You may also have a loss of sensation from the loss of vaginal elasticity. It can help to buy lubricants that do not contain glycerine as this ingredient can cause itching and irritation in the vagina.
- Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition that results in the bones becoming weak and brittle and leads to your risk of fractures being increased. During the period following menopause, you may lose some of your bone density at quite a rapid rate, this will increase your risk of the condition osteoporosis. Women who are postmenopausal and suffer from osteoporosis are extremely susceptible to fractures of their wrists, spine and hips. Speak to your doctor about methods that can help decrease your risks regarding supplements (calcium) and medication.
- Weight gain – A variety of women have noted that their transition into menopause and the period after it has resulted in their metabolism slowing down, this is due to the change of hormones in your body.
**Just to recap on the reason for this: As your ovaries begin to produce less oestrogen, your body will try to get it from other places. Your fat cells are also capable of producing oestrogen, therefore, the body will work extra hard to convert any calories into fat in order to increase the oestrogen levels. Because your fat cells do not burn calories in the same way that muscles do, your body may automatically gain weight as a result.