Earlier onset of menopause in women is associated with an increased risk of various health problems such as cardiovascular disease, but also with an increased decline in muscle mass and strength.
A new study by experts at Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital examined how the entire duration of the reproductive period from menarche to menopause is associated with handgrip strength, or overall muscle mass and strength, in postmenopausal women. The results have been published in the English-language specialist journal “Menopause”.
How is reproductive lifespan defined?
A shorter reproductive lifespan in women has been linked by experts to various negative effects, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. The reproductive lifespan is defined as the phase from menarche (first menstrual period) to menopause.
What is sarcopenia?
So-called sarcopenia is a natural part of the aging process and refers to the decline in skeletal muscle mass and function. Experts believe that by 2045, around 72.4 percent of people over the age of 65 will suffer from sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia can contribute to reduced physical performance, reduced quality of life and reduced cardiorespiratory capacity, the team explains. In addition, sarcopenia promotes an increase in metabolic diseases, falls, disabilities and early mortality.
Determine sarcopenia by hand grip strength
Previous research has already found that postmenopausal women are affected by an annual loss of muscle mass of 0.6 percent, the experts report. A typical method for screening for sarcopenia is to check handgrip strength.
However, there have been no studies to date that have focused on examining the connection between handgrip strength and reproductive duration, the researchers continued. The new investigation should change this.
A total of 2,354 postmenopausal women aged 45 to 75 years were included in the statistical analysis. The researchers found that the longer the reproductive lifespan of women, the lower the risk of low absolute handgrip strength.
Early menopause, reduced handgrip strength
“This study showed that a longer reproductive period and later onset of menopause were associated with a lower risk of low handgrip strength in postmenopausal Korean women,” concluded Menopause Society Medical Director Dr. Stephanie Faubion in a press release.
According to the expert, this could be due to the positive effect of estrogen on skeletal muscles, but this now needs to be examined in more detail in further studies. (as)