How to avoid the rise in cholesterol during menopause?

A woman’s cholesterol level can rise during or after menopause, due to reduced levels of the hormone estrogen in the body. Estrogen helps regulate cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced by the body. It falls into two categories, depending on the lipoprotein that carries it. There is low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

When a person has too much LDL cholesterol, it builds up in the walls of their blood vessels, causing them to narrow. This can cause chest pain or more serious health events, like a heart attack. High-density lipoproteins bring HDL cholesterol to the liver, which then evacuates it from the body. A high HDL level is a sign of good health and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Menopause is a stage of life marked by the end of menstruation. It usually begins between the ages of 40 and 58. Menopause is not a health issue, but it can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, trouble sleeping, and mood swings. Changes in hormone levels are responsible for most of the changes that occur during menopause. A reduction in the hormone estrogen can cause an increase in LDL cholesterol levels.

Here’s the link between cholesterol and menopause and what to do to limit the rise in levels at this time of life.

What is the connection between menopause and cholesterol?

During and after menopause, a woman’s cholesterol level can rise. A 2018 study confirms that sex hormones such as estrogen offer some protection against heart disease before menopause. And a 2020 study found that total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were significantly higher in people after menopause, compared to people in early menopause. HDL cholesterol levels were reduced in all participants.

The liver plays an important role in metabolism using fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol to meet the body’s metabolic needs. Estrogen helps regulate lipid metabolism in the liver. Therefore, the decline in estrogen levels during menopause leads to an increase in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

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Experiencing this drop in estrogen at an early stage can increase certain health risks. Women who go through early menopause are twice as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not yet gone through menopause.

What to expect during menopause in case of hypercholesterolemia?

High cholesterol usually has no symptoms, and a person may not realize it until after suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Cholesterol levels should be checked at least every 5 years. During and after menopause, a woman may consider having this screening done more often. Anyone who has a family member with high cholesterol should ask their doctor how often they should be screened.

Doctors can check cholesterol levels using a blood test called a lipid profile. A lab analyzes the blood sample to measure levels of:

– total cholesterol
– LDL cholesterol, which can be harmful
– HDL cholesterol, which can be a sign of good health
– triglycerides

Treatment and care

Some people need medication to lower their cholesterol levels. Statins are the main type of medication used for this purpose. They reduce the body’s production of cholesterol, thereby lowering LDL cholesterol levels. They also increase the liver’s ability to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood.


Certain foods can help lower cholesterol. Soluble dietary fiber can bind to cholesterol in the digestive system and remove it from the body. Plant sterols and stanols are cholesterol-like compounds found in plant foods and can prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol. To promote healthy cholesterol levels, you can incorporate these foods into your diet:

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– eggs
– cheese
– yogurt
– sea food
– lean red meats
– organ meats, such as kidneys, heart and liver
– sardines
– fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

How to prevent hypercholesterolemia during perimenopause?

Around menopause, before it, and at any other time in life, there are many ways to prevent high cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fats and trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels in the body. As menopause approaches, in particular, a person may wish to reduce their intake of foods containing these fats.

Smoking cessation and physical activity can also lower cholesterol levels. Aim to engage in moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes per week.
Also, being obese or overweight raises LDL cholesterol levels in the body. One way to remedy this, or prevent high cholesterol, is to maintain a moderate weight.

To remember

LDL cholesterol levels can rise during or after menopause, due to a reduction in estrogen levels in the body. This hormone helps the liver regulate cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol may not cause any symptoms, but it can contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

A woman going through menopause can take several steps to prevent or reduce high cholesterol, including being physically active, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a moderate weight.

* The information and services available on in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. []

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