Menopause is not a disease but a natural process that affects every woman. However, many aspects of menopause have a negative health effect and they are related to increase risk of some diseases.


Menopause occurs in women of approximately 50 years of age meaning the end of their reproductive ability. Until the time of menopause and since the first menstruation, the woman body is experiencing a periodic menstrual cycle controlled by female hormones estrogens and progesterone. Estrogens and progesterone levels decline during the menopause leading to relatively big changes in the organism. The most obvious is the gradual cessation of the menstrual cycle and the inability to get pregnant, but the meaning of menopause is much deeper.


The menstrual period gets irregular and after a certain time period it disappears completely. The psychic of woman changes with mood swings, nervousness and tendency to depression. Woman begins to suffer from many non-specific symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, dry mouth, brittle nails, etc. Due to the lack of estrogen, the woman’s voice gets harsh. From the medical point of view, it is important that woman loses the protective effect of estrogens.


Estrogens have significant protective effect on the female body and reduce risk of many diseases. Woman has the natural role of mother who must care for her children. That is why the hormones protect her against cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis, improve fat metabolism and affect the storage of fat tissue (Woman before the menopause have usually the safer “pear obesity” than “apple obesity”). With the decline o estrogens levels in the menopause, the protection disappears. Women after menopause have a much higher risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases including heart attack and ischemic stroke. The postmenopausal women are more threatened by osteoporosis and fractures and also suffer from excessive hair loss. The lack of estrogen causes changes of pelvic area tissues that lose the ability to properly support the urethra resulting in urinary incontinence.


The treatment is possible but somehow controversial. As I have written in the beginning, the menopause is rather a natural process than a disease. The therapy consists of regular usage of female sex hormones in form of pills resulting in withdrawal of all unpleasant symptoms and consequences of the menopause. However, there is a catch. Long-term usage of such hormonal preparations increases the risk of breast cancer and other types of gynecological cancers. Usage of such hormonal substances should be therefore time-limited and discussed with a gynecologist.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources