The thyroid status can change with menopause. Thyroid does not significantly affect the menopause however menopause can change the severity of the thyroid disease. Heart problems such as thickening of the heart arteries and osteoporosis may be aggravated in the presence of thyroid problems.
Many menopausal problems can be similar in someone with thyroid problems. When the thyroid problems are high, the woman experiences hot flashes, sweating, heart palpitations, insomnia, irritability and mood swings. Whereas weight gain, constipation, skin atrophy, hair fragility may be symptoms of low thyroid levels. This can make diagnosis confusing.
Dental and Gum Problems during Menopause
Women at menopause are at a greater risk for dental problems such as
- Gingivitis which is inflammation of the gum due to accumulation of bacteria between the gums and teeth which than leads to irritation and inflammation. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to a more serious problem called periodontitis. Gum disease increase the risk of heart disease.
- Bone loss can affect the jaw bone and cause loosening of the teeth and tooth loss.
It is good to look after the mouth and dental hygiene by going for regular dental checkups and discussing dental care with your dentist.
A woman’s lifetime risk of colon cancer is 5% with 90% of cases found in women above the age of 50 years (after menopause). Estrogen and progesterone hormones during the reproductive years gives a protective effect against colon cancer by decreasing bile acid production. Women on hormone therapy have been found to have a decreased risk of colon cancer.
Other risk factors for colon cancer are unhealthy diet (processed food and red meat), sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking, adenomatous polyps before the age of 60 years, family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and low levels of Vitamin D. Omega Fish oil, folic acid, Vitamin B 6, calcium and garlic may give some protection against polyps of the colon and colon cancer
The loss of estrogen can affect the skin in various ways;
Oily skin: Estrogen helps the skin by increasing sebaceous gland secretions which is an “anti-acne effect”. With menopause and lowered estrogen levels, the testosterone level is slightly higher which causes oily skin and a tendency towards adult acne.
Facial Hair: there may be more hair on the chin, upper lip area as the testosterone levels are relatively higher at this point.
Sagging skin and wrinkles: Estrogen stimulates fat deposits over the body and as its levels fall, there is less fat deposition over the face and neck and more over the midriff and buttocks. This loss of fat over the face allows the skin to sag and causes wrinkles. This may also happen over the breasts.
Elastosis: There is also less production and repair of collagen and elastin in the dermis layer of the skin. This happens more in skin exposed to ultraviolet rays(UV) rays.
Thinner skin: estrogens control the blood flow in the skin and with menopause, there is less nutrients and oxygen available. The skin gets dry with the water loss.
The amount of tears the eye produces, drops with the menopause leaving the eye dry, light sensitive, with blurring of vision as well as a burning, gritty and a sandy feel to the eyes.
The dry eye syndrome is very common (up to 60%) in perimenopause and menopausal women. Women find that their eyes are dry and itchy. They get sensitive to their usual eye makeup and find it very worrying.
Some women have excessive tearing which is also a sign of dry eyes – the eyes are trying to compensate for lack of moisture. Increase lubrication by using over the counter eye drops regularly.
Blink as often as you can.
This is a very common chronic disease that affects joints causing degeneration of tissue within, osteophyte formation and inflammation. Women are prone to OA because their joints and tendons are more elastic than men (as their bodies are designed for childbirth). Their hips are wider than men’s and their knee joints are not as aligned as men’s. With every delivery, the risk of a future knee replacement increases by 8% and for hip replacement 2%.
- OA also runs in families with a genetic link that runs from mother to daughter.
- Estrogen allow the joints to move comfortably and cushions the bones to prevent pain.
- Obesity plays a major role in OA as extra weight puts more pressure on joints and causes the cartilages to wear away. With every pound increase in weight, there is an extra 6 pounds pressure to the hips and 3 pounds pressure to the knee.