The average age for menopause in the United States is 52, according to the Office on Women’s Health, and those hormonal changes can bring a number of health changes too. Some of the symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, problems sleeping, irregular periods and bleeding, vaginal dryness or infection, and depression and anxiety.
After menopause, the ovaries produce much lower levels of estrogen, and having less estrogen in the body can cause women to lose bone mass at a much faster rate, putting them at a higher risk for the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis. The breaking down of bones can also set off other health conditions. According to the Office on Women’s Health, the lead people are exposed to throughout their lives is stored in their bones, and “because bone begins to break down much more quickly after menopause, that lead is more likely to be released into the blood,” which can affect kidney function, and put women at risk of lead poisoning, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries.
One in three women in their 50s also experiences stress incontinence, or “urine loss while coughing or sneezing,” according to the AARP, which is often the result of decreased estrogen and vaginal deliveries. Many also experience dry eye and have to start using reading glasses.