Menopause and sarcopenia: A potential role for sex hormones

Maturitas. 2011 Apr;68(4):331-6. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.01.014. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


Menopause is associated with a decline in estrogen levels, which could lead to an increase in visceral adiposity as well as a decrease in bone density, muscle mass and muscle strength. This decline in muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, is frequently observed in postmenopausal women. Potential causes of sarcopenia include age-related changes in the hormonal status, low levels of physical activity, reduced protein intake and increased oxidative stress. However, the role of sex hormones, specifically estrogens, on the onset of sarcopenia is controversial. Preventing sarcopenia and preserving muscle strength are highly relevant in order to prevent functional impairment and physical disability. To date, resistance training has been shown to be effective in attenuating age-related muscle loss and strength. However, results on the effect of hormonal supplementation to treat or prevent sarcopenia are contradictory. Further research is needed to identify other potential mechanisms of sarcopenia as well as effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia. Therefore, the purpose of this review will be to examine the role of sex hormonal status in the development of sarcopenia. We will also overview the physical as well as metabolic consequences of sarcopenia and the efficiency of different interventions for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Resistance Training
  • Sarcopenia / etiology
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control*


  • Estrogens