Can Menopause Cause High Cholesterol?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

I am starting menopause and not taking any hormone replacement.  I developed high cholesterol levels since starting menopause.  Is there a link between not taking HRT and high cholesterol?

Doctor's response

Yes, in postmenopausal women, lack of estrogen can lead to elevated blood cholesterol.

The benefits of estrogen hormone replacement in postmenopausal women include lower total cholesterol, higher HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol that actually protects against arteriosclerosis), lower risk of coronary heartdisease beyond its effect on blood cholesterol, prevent osteoporosis, and alleviate symptoms related to menopause.

The risk of long-term estrogen replacement includes risk of breast cancer, and uterine cancer (in patients who have not yet undergone hysterectomy). The risk of uterine cancer is reduced with addition of progesterone to estrogen.

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