Postmenopausal - after the period of menstruation has ended - increases the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis, heart and vascular disease, adult onset or breast cancer.
Changed risk profile
There are clear gender differences in the incidence of osteoporosis-typical fractures: women are two to three times more likely to fracture than men. The fracture rates increase expoentionally in older age. Estrogens promote bone structure by stimulating bone metabolism. If there are fewer estrogens after menopause, the overall effect is reduced by the corresponding factor.
Also, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age as fewer natural estrogens circulate in the blood. Estrogens protect the blood vessels by increasing the amount of "good" HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein), which prevents atherosclerosis and heart attack. In Germany, 240, 000 women and 167, 000 men die every year from diseases of the cardiovascular system. In women, they are the number one cause of serious illness and one in two deaths. Postmenopausal women are more frequently affected than menopausal women. The vascular protective effect can only be detected in the body's own estrogens. The intake of synthetic estrogens does not prevent cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, even the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, a broad-based hormone therapy study that was actually used to demonstrate this form of therapy, was discontinued . Under estrogen therapy, the risk of heart attack and stroke increased.
The altered lipid metabolism also affects body weight, as the calorie requirement during menopause decreases. If those affected do not change their eating habits or increase their energy consumption as they move more, they gain weight. While in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, 22.8 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 49 are overweight (body mass index, BMI> 29), this is 31.1 percent of the 50- to 59-year-olds and 38.0 Percent of 60- to 69-year-olds the case. The risk of developing adult-onset diabetes increases.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women in Germany. Statistically, every eighth to tenth woman is affected during their lifetime, the average age at first diagnosis is 63 years. According to the most recent estimates of the Robert Koch Institute, over 47, 300 women in the Federal Republic of Germany suffer from breast cancer each year, of whom 19, 300 are aged less than 60 years. Errors in cell division become more and more likely with increasing age. Family bias, smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity are relevant factors that increase the risk of disease.
Strategies against menopausal complaints
The need for professional help with menopausal symptoms is great. Almost three-quarters of the women affected seek out a gynecologist for this reason. The number of visits is steadily increasing with both the variety and the intensity of the complaints. Although women are on average satisfied with medical care, there is one exception: counseling and offering alternative therapies and remedies to treat menopausal symptoms. Nearly a third of women in this area are dissatisfied with their doctor's services.
During their regular practice, physicians often can not afford to respond to the special needs of women in menopause. Therefore, complementary offers must be created that meet the need of women for individual, medically competent, holistic counseling and care. As different as the causes of menopausal symptoms are, so many are the solutions. These depend on the type and severity of the symptoms, risk factors for osteoporosis or cardiovascular diseases, pre-existing conditions and which alternative treatment the woman prefers or dislikes.
The most important success factor is to make women aware that they are responsible for their own health and can do something for themselves. Recommendations for a conscious lifestyle, ie to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid stress, should therefore be the basis of all therapeutic approaches. A healthy and wholesome diet can not only help alleviate discomfort but also prevent osteoporosis or heart disease.
Physical activity is just as beneficial: swimming or cycling for 30 minutes two or three times a week relieves hot flashes and sweats, boosts the immune system and improves sleep. In addition, there are numerous opportunities in the fields of naturopathy and conventional medicine to relieve the vegetative symptoms.
Hormone therapy and plant preparations
The focus is on alternative methods such as phytoestrogens and plant preparations. But also homeopathic remedies and orthomolecular medicine bring the desired relief. While alternative methods are becoming increasingly popular among women, the acceptance of hormone therapy (HT) with estrogens or estrogen-progestin combinations has declined in recent years due to negative study results.