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The onset of early menopause is associated with a heightened risk of increased muscle mass and strength loss, according to a recent study by The Menopause Society. This discovery contributes to a range of adverse health effects linked to a shorter reproductive lifespan, including an elevated risk of heart problems and premature death.

Postmenopausal women experience decline in muscle strength

According to the study the reproductive age of a woman is defined by the onset of her first period and the occurrence of menopause, both influencing the aging process in females. Therefore the onset of menstruation and menopause are instrumental in determining the aging process in women.

The study found an annual muscle mass decline of 0.6 percent in postmenopausal women, contributing to sarcopenia, a condition associated with age-related skeletal muscle loss. Researchers predict that by 2045, 72.4% of the global population above 65 years will face sarcopenia. Failure to address this condition adequately can significantly diminish an individual’s quality of life.

Loss of muscle mass has significant implications for physical health, increasing the likelihood of falls, disability, metabolic diseases, and mortality. Additionally, it poses a risk to the weakening of heart and lung muscles. A common method for assessing muscle health is the handgrip test, often used to diagnose sarcopenia. However, limited studies have explored the connection between handgrip strength and a person’s reproductive period.

Women with extended reproductive period unlikely to have handgrip issues

The recent study examined 2,300 postmenopausal women aged 45 to 75, focusing on handgrip strength. The findings revealed that women with a more extended reproductive window were less likely to exhibit poor handgrip strength, emphasizing a potential link between reproductive history and muscle health.

Besides skeletal muscle loss, the study authors indicate that there there are a range of factors that can affect handgrip strength. Authors established that educational level, household income, protein and vitamin D levels, breastfeeding duration and race can also be factors contributing to handgrip strength variations. For instance Asian women showed a lower prevalence of sarcopenia compared to other groups.