Community Blog

Menopause and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Dreadful Combination

By Debbie Humphrey

I remember my friends forewarning me about the negative side effects of menopause – hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, and fatigue – years before I actually experienced them. Those warnings held true, and I remember awakening in the middle of the night with those dreaded night sweats, and I would sit in front of the fan I had positioned to blow directly on me, recalling those friendly words of caution.

Our feminine hormones diminish as we age, which is why menopause occurs in the first place. It’s a natural evolution every woman experiences at some point. Fortunately for me, I did not suffer menopause and rheumatoid arthritis, or I might not be writing this blog!

I recently read a study discussed on the Arthritis Foundation website, which was conducted by Elizabeth Mollard, PhD, an assistant professor and advanced nurse practitioner at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Lincoln. Dr. Mollard wanted to determine the connection between RA and menopausal woman. Although her findings were not necessarily conclusive, there was a connection in the role female hormones play when it comes to RA and women’s ability to effectively handle activities of daily living.

Between 2003 and 2017, at least two completed Health Assessment Questionnaires were submitted by each female participant, which consisted of more than 8000 women total, who were categorized as pre- peri- and post-menopausal, and who also had been previously diagnosed with RA. Dr Mollard discovered that “overall, postmenopausal women scored a half point higher (meaning they had a worse outcome) on the HAQ than premenopausal women…and the decline was less severe in women who had a longer reproductive life (early menstruation or late menopause), had ever been pregnant, or had used hormone replacement therapy (HRT).”

RA is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack itself. A non-contagious disorder, RA is usually inherited or genetic and is the second most common form of arthritis, typically affecting fingers, knuckles, elbows, shoulders, knees and feet. Throw menopause in the mix, and the recipe can be devastating to a woman’s ability to function and perform normal daily activities.

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and it is important to recognize that arthritis does not discriminate. It is a malady that primarily affects women, no matter their age. The pain is real and the resulting “disabilities” can render sufferers helpless, especially in post-menopausal women.

If you know someone who battles RA and is approaching, experiencing or post-menopausal, I have dedicated caregivers who are available help! Home Helpers® provides non-medical assistance including light housework, running errands, shopping for groceries, preparing meals, assisting with transportation, offering medication reminders, and so much more. I am happy to offer a FREE consultation, and whatever resources at my disposal, to assist with each individual’s specific needs.

Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539

Source: Arthritis Foundation
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