Cholesterol and menopause: what is the relationship?
Menopause is a natural stage in life that occurs when a person with ovaries does not have their period for more than 12 months. On average, this happens at
Hormonal changes occur at this stage of life. The ovaries produce significantly less
Uncomfortable, but common, symptoms can result. These can include hot flashes, poor sleep, vaginal dryness, night sweats, mood swings, and slower metabolism.
After menopause, health risks also change, including an increased risk of heart disease. The increased risk of heart disease is primarily due to the effect of menopause on cholesterol levels.
This article explores the relationship between menopause and blood cholesterol levels in more detail.
Menopause can lead to hormonal and metabolic changes, ultimately altering your lipid profile.
A lipid profile is a panel of blood tests that measure the type of fats in your blood, which can help determine risk factors for developing heart disease. A lipid panel
- total cholesterol
- high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also called “good cholesterol”
- low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol”
High levels of lipids, especially LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, can
So where does menopause fit into all of this? It turns out that estrogen – the sex hormone that declines at this stage of life – has many heart protective mechanisms.
Estrogen acts on the liver to
So when menopause begins and estrogen levels drop, your body’s ability to maintain that healthy lipid profile can be affected. This can lead to an increase in cholesterol.
(However, observational studies are designed to find associations but cannot explain cause and effect – or Why associations exist. Their findings don’t always tell the whole story compared to other types of studies due to
Fortunately, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to manage your cholesterol levels during menopause — or at any age and stage of life.
Diet can play an important role. Focus on increasing your intake of soluble fiberwho
Enjoy a variety of foods high in soluble fiber, such as:
- legumes like beans, edamame, chickpeas, peas, and lentils
- whole grains like barley and oats
- fresh fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots
- fiber supplements like psyllium
Also, enjoy foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts, ground flax, olive oil and avocado. Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids
Be aware of your saturated fat admission. Excess saturated fat in the diet – from sources such as red meat, high-fat dairy products and butter – is
Exercise can be incredibly beneficial for heart health. The
To finish, smoking
Here are some questions people often ask about menopause and cholesterol.
Can menopause cause high cholesterol?
Menopause does not cause high cholesterol, but it does increase the risk.
High cholesterol has many risk factors including family history, lifestyle, hormones, comorbidities, environment, etc.
Does cholesterol drop after menopause?
No, because estrogen levels are reduced after menopause. Estrogen plays a role in keeping cholesterol levels low, so when estrogen levels drop, cholesterol levels can rise.
It is important to focus on managing cholesterol levels through diet and lifestyle.
How can I lower my cholesterol during menopause?
Focus on eating foods high in fiber and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and olive oil. Incorporate an exercise routine if you don’t already have one. And if you smoke, consider quitting.
During menopause, estrogen levels decline. This is associated with increased cholesterol levels because estrogen helps your body regulate cholesterol and other lipids.
However, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of heart disease after menopause.
These include enjoying a varied and balanced diet rich in plant foods and fatty fish, adopting or maintaining an exercise routine, and quitting smoking if you currently smoke.
Keep in mind that menopause and reduced estrogen are just one of many risk factors. Focus on what is in your control and do your best.