Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Menopause facts
- What is menopause?
- At what age does a woman typically reach menopause?
- What conditions can affect the timing of menopause?
- What are the symptoms of menopause?
- What are the complications and effects of menopause on chronic medical conditions?
- Are hormone levels or other blood tests helpful in detecting menopause?
- What are the treatment options for the symptoms of menopause?
- Hormone therapy for menopause
- Other medical therapies for menopause
- Alternative therapies for menopause
- Non-hormone therapies for menopause
- Lifestyle factors in managing menopause symptoms
- Menopause Quiz
- Menopause and Perimenopause Slideshow
- Osteoporosis Slideshow
- Menopause FAQs
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What are the complications and effects of menopause on chronic medical conditions?
Osteoporosis is the deterioration of the quantity and quality of bone that causes an increased risk of fracture. The density of the bone (bone mineral density) normally begins to decrease in women during the fourth decade of life. However, that normal decline in bone density is accelerated during the menopausal transition. As a consequence, both age and the hormonal changes due to the menopause transition act together to cause osteoporosis.
The process leading to osteoporosis can operate silently for decades. Women may not be aware of their osteoporosis until suffering a painful fracture. The symptoms are then related to the location and severity of the fractures.
Treatment of osteoporosis
The goal of osteoporosis treatment is the prevention of bone fractures by slowing bone loss and increasing bone density and strength. Although early detection and timely treatment of osteoporosis can substantially decrease the risk of future fracture, none of the available treatments for osteoporosis are complete cures for the condition. Therefore, the prevention of osteoporosis is as important as treatment.
Osteoporosis treatment and prevention measures are:
- Lifestyle changes including cessation of cigarette smoking, curtailing alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and consuming a balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D.
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements may be recommended for women who do not consume sufficient quantities of these nutrients.
- Medications that stop bone loss and increase bone strength include alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), ibandronate (Boniva), zoledronic acid (Reclast), raloxifene (Evista), denosumab (Prolia), and calcitonin (Calcimar). Teriparatide (Forteo) is a medication that increases bone formation.
Prior to menopause, women have a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke when compared with men. Around the time of menopause, however, a women's risk of cardiovascular disease increases. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.
Coronary heart disease rates in postmenopausal women are two to three times higher than in women of the same age who have not reached menopause. This increased risk for cardiovascular disease may be related to declining estrogen levels, but in light of other factors (see Treatment section below), postmenopausal women are not advised to take hormone therapy simply as a preventive measure to decrease their risk of heart attack or stroke.
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