However, it’s also now understood that, as a woman your risk for gout increases once you reach menopause – in fact, it’s considered rare for a woman to develop gout prior to menopause, with only about 15% of all cases occurring at that time.2
Why is this?
It is thought that there are two basic reasons why women like you may develop gout less frequently prior to menopause than men. First, after puberty men’s bodies naturally produce more of the uric acid which can crystallize and finds its way into the joints, causing the pain and inflammation of gout later in life. Second, as a woman, your kidneys are more effective at flushing out excess uric acid. However, this is where menopause comes into play, it appears as though the hormone shifts associated with menopause may be what increase your risk of developing gout.
Can women like you get gout for other reasons not directly related to the changes of menopause?
Yes, it also appears as though diuretic therapy plays a role in the development of gout in both men and women. Women who have reached postmenopausal age also face an increased risk of hypertension, and are then treated with diuretics which result in increased levels of uric acid in the system as water and sodium are flushed out.
How, then, can this be countered? One method is the use of hormone replacement therapy, with the belief that if estrogen plays a key part in the efficient processing of uric acid it should help postmenopausal women avoid the pain of gout. And studies which have been conducted to test this theory have shown that hormone replacement can have a modest effect on the risk of developing gout. 3 As always, check with your doctor as he or she can help determine what may be right for you.
Aside from hormone replacement therapy and the prescribing of anti-inflammatory drugs in order to lessen the inflammation of gout, the basic tenets of healthy living which are suggested to all gout sufferers apply in this case as well:
Avoidance of foods high in purine, such as:
- organ meats
- seafood including anchovies, sardines, herring, scallops
- meat such as beef, pork and bacon
Avoidance of high-sugar beverages (soda, fruit juice, sugary beverages especially those with high fructose corn syrup) and alcohol
Weight loss, as obesity is strongly linked to the development of gout
Can women get gout after menopause?
Yes. But the onset of menopause is no guarantee that the pain of gout has to be suffered needlessly. Knowledge is power, and knowing the risks and the steps which counteract those risks goes a long way toward avoiding the outcome.
2 “Gout: Causes and Risk Factors – Gender.” http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/gout. Accessed May 11, 2016.
3 A. Elisabeth Hak, MD, PhD, Gary C. Curhan, MD, ScD, Francine Grodstein, ScD, and Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH. “Menopause, Postmenopausal Hormone Use and Risk of Incident Gout.” Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Jul; 69(7): 1305–1309. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142742/. Accessed April 10, 2015.