The news that a high level of androgen affects the heart has been around for quite a while. There have been many studies carried out to check the truth about the hypothesis. The sudden surge in the levels of androgens after a woman stops having her period have been attributed to mood swings, but also for something more severe like cardiovascular disease. However, the steroids may or may not be the culprits in the development of cardiovascular diseases in women that have stopped menstruating.
That dilemma and uncertainty is what led a group of scientists led by Cindy Meun to investigate the phenomenon. The basis of their investigation was that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is closely connected to hyperandrogenism (HA). When considering patients living with Polycystic ovary syndrome, it has been found that metabolic disturbances that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease are linked with high androgen levels. The research was carried out with about two thousand and five hundred participants who were all over 55 years old. In the study, the team used linear, logistic, and Cox regression models to measure the following:
- The association of top quartiles (P75) of serum testosterone
- Free androgen index (FAI)
- Dehydroepiandrosterone, and androstenedione
- Sex hormone-binding globulin with coronary artery calcium
- Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT)
- Pulse wave velocity
- Peripheral artery disease
- The incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and CVD
The result of the study was that the average time since menopause was 19.85 (9.94) years. The highest quartile of the free androgen index (FAI) was associated with higher pulse wave velocity (β (95% confidence interval (CI)), 0.009 [0.000 to 0.018]). Highest quartile dehydroepiandrosterone (β (95% CI), -0.008 (-0.015 to -0.001)) and androstenedione (β (95% CI), -0.010 (-0.017 to -0.003)) levels were associated with a lower IMT. Based on their results they did not discover any form of evidence that proves that there is a relationship between high levels of androgen and incident stroke, coronary heart disease (CHD), or Cardiovascular disease (CVD).
What is a Healthy Testosterone to Estrogen in a Post-Menopausal Women?
Testosterone is a sex hormone that belongs to the class of androgens. This hormone is not only present in male but is also present in females. The ovaries in the female reproductive system produce both estrogen and testosterone. The testosterone is produced in women by the adrenal gland and the ovaries. It is then released into the bloodstream in small quantities. The ovaries and the fat tissues in the body produce estrogen, the second sex hormone, as well. The function of these sex hormones in the human body is to grow, maintain and aid in repairing reproductive tissues.
Estrogen and testosterone also work on influencing the body and bone mass. Basically, there are three types of estrogen. They are Estrones, which is the main hormone that is found in post-menopausal women. The second one is Estradiol, which has the highest level of presence in the body especially during the moments of pregnancy. Additionally, the third form of estrogen is the hormone Estriol that deals with many functions that are beneficial to the body. Estriol is the primary sex hormone for ladies who are within the childbearing age. In addition, it carries out functions such as preventing osteoporosis and protecting the bone, secondary characteristics during puberty and sexual functioning. However, it is one of the causes of gynecological problems like fibroids, endometriosis or even some cancers prevalent in females. Estrogen levels fall at menopause. This is a natural occurrence for all ladies between ages 40 and 55. The decrease in estrogen can happen suddenly in ladies of a younger age whose ovaries are removed, bringing about supposed surgical menopause.
Perimenopause is the time of change before menopause. The common decrease in estrogen levels begins amid this stage. Other physiological changes additionally begin. Ladies experiencing perimenopause may encounter weight gain alongside other menopause indications. For example, there might be sporadic menstrual periods, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.
All things considered, menopause happens at age 51. When it does, a lady’s body delivers less estrogen and progesterone. The drop of estrogen levels at menopause can cause awkward side effects, including:
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Vaginal dryness or tingling
- Loss of libido or sex drive
A few ladies encounter crankiness. That could possibly be identified with the loss of estrogen. Lower levels of estrogen may likewise complicate the risk of a woman developing the coronary illness, stroke, osteoporosis, and breaks.
Similarly, a drop in testosterone levels occurs in ladies who have reached menopause. The decrease in the levels of this hormone can be linked to decreased sex drive in ladies of this age group. Based on a number of studies, it was discovered that testosterone replacement therapy is capable of giving some sexual benefits in terms of functionality as regards some ladies before and after they reach their menopause. However, replacement therapy is contraindicated in ladies that have either cancer of the breast or those that have uterine cancer. The chances of having cardiovascular disease or liver disease are observed to be higher as well. Therefore, professionals are careful and require several tests to be clear that recommending replacement therapy will not affect the patient they are considering to give the prescription.
What is the Link Between High Testosterone and Heart Disease in Women?
There are always going to be suggestions and assumptions that discusses a possible link between high androgen levels in women and their likelihood of having cardiovascular diseases, but there is no substantial evidence to back that claim up. Therefore, one could merely relate the heart issues with the aging process that the body is going through and a result of the peculiar lifestyles of these women individually. If there is any form or remedy or therapy you are interested in, try to seek the advice and guidance of a consultant and experienced healthcare professional. This is particularly important as the body may not be able to reverse any mistake as a result of improper and unapproved therapy. Healthcare professionals are still conducting follow-up research to confirm the proofs so far and detect the best regimen of management of cardiovascular diseases generally and more specifically in women undergoing menopause. Truth is we all have them in our lives. If you are not one of us, then you are married to one, you work with one, one is your mother/sister, one way or another it will benefit the world to take care of everyone and if not, more importantly, our mothers as they journey down the hyper-androgenic pathway.
Daan NM, Louwers YV, Koster MP, et al. Cardiovascular and metabolic profiles amongst different polycystic ovary syndrome phenotypes: who is really at risk? Fertil Steril. 2014;102(5):1444-1451.
Meun, C., Franco, O. H., Dhana, K., Jaspers, L., Muka, T., Louwers, Y., … & Laven, J. S. (2018). High androgens in postmenopausal women and the risk for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease: the Rotterdam Study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 103(4), 1622-1630.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 08, 2016