Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful and disabling autoimmune disease that targets the joint linings. Although men can develop this disease, women are three times more likely to develop it. Also, many women find that their RA symptoms and pain worsen with menopause. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure why this happens, they do think that hormones play a role.
Recent research conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center studied over 8,000 women who had RA. These women were divided into three groups: pre-menopausal, transitioning into menopause, and postmenopausal. Researchers found that menopausal status was associated with functional decline and a worsening progression of functional decline in women with RA.
Although not fully understood, there seems to be a link between estrogen levels and the severity of RA. For example, when some women with RA become pregnant, they notice a decrease in their RA symptoms. This may have something to do with higher levels of estrogen during pregnancy. After their pregnancy, these same women often have RA flare ups, which may have to do with a drop in estrogen after the birth of their child.
Also, other research has shown that women who enter menopause earlier than normal are more likely to develop RA than those who enter it at a normal time or later. During menopause, there is a decrease in the hormone estrogen.
These research results seem to suggest that estrogen has protective benefits against RA. However, it still doesn’t explain why young healthy women with normal levels of estrogen are three times more likely to develop RA compared to men. Further research is needed.
Although the link between estrogen and RA is not fully understood yet, there have been great strides made in RA treatments and pain management. If you are looking for a Las Vegas arthritis doctor, contact Apex Medical Center. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pain conditions and diseases, like arthritis.