The Link Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Early Menopause in Women
This type of arthritis is a painful condition of the joints that primarily affects women over the age of 40. It causes swelling and disfigurement of the knees, hands and feet because of high levels of inflammation. Everyone experiences some inflammation throughout their lives because it is a natural part of the immune system response. But after an injury has healed, the body turns the inflammation off. If there is a problem with the immune system, this doesn’t happen though. So instead of attacking viruses or bacteria, the body begins to attack healthy tissue. Although it is not fully understood why it happens, a woman who goes into early menopause is affected by this condition in a different way. This article will discuss the details of this response.
What is Early Menopause?
Most women begin menopause when they are about 50-years-old. But they can experience perimenopausal symptoms for years prior to this. However, it is possible for a woman to go into menopause before the age of 45 if she has a hysterectomy that diminishes her production of estrogen. A family history of early menopause can increase her chances of it, too.
How Does Menopause Contribute to This Type of Arthritis?
When a woman goes through menopause, her body produces less of the hormone estrogen, which is important for strong bones. So the bones become more fragile and more easily damaged than they would be if she were younger. Her immune system is also lowered. This makes her bones and joints more susceptible to damage from this type of arthritis.
How Does Early Menopause Change the Effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Strangely enough, early menopause lessens the damage done on the joints and bones by this condition. So women get a milder version of it that isn’t as crippling as the severe cases that make movement so painful and difficult. And it doesn’t seem to matter if they have started getting symptoms of this type of arthritis before or after their early menopause begins.
Should Women Induce Early Menopause to Reduce the Damage Done by This Condition?
Although it may be tempting to consider inducing early menopause by a hysterectomy or suppression of the production of estrogen just to limit the effects of this disease, it isn’t advisable. The longer that a woman goes without enough estrogen, the weaker that her bones will be, which can put her at risk for fractures and breaks that won’t heal well. Estrogen is also important to a woman’s emotional health. Any offsets to it will cause insomnia, night sweats, depression and anxiety, too. So it is important to wait until the body naturally begins the process instead of forcing it.
If you or someone that you know is over the age of 40 and at risk for this type of arthritis, it is best to seek advice from a qualified physician. There are many treatment options available that can reduce the damage done by this disease without inducing menopause. But the treatment has to be started as soon as possible.