Frailty refers to the decline in physiological reserve capacity caused by the deterioration of multiple physiological systems (brain, endocrine system, immune system, and skeletal muscle), leading to increased vulnerability and decreased stress capacity. Women have a higher prevalence of frailty than men, although the epidemiological factors underlying this phenomenon are not fully understood. Menopause and menopause-related characteristics may be among the contributing factors. Hence, the purpose of this scoping review was to explore the relationship between menopause and frailty. We attempted to summarize information such as the age that menopause occurs, years since menopause, types of menopause, and hormones and inflammatory markers of frailty among postmenopausal women.
PubMed, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and Web of Science, the China National Knowledge Infrastructure, the China Biomedical Literature Service System, Wanfang Database and the WeiPu (VIP) Database were searched from inception until April 3, 2019. Supplementary searches of the references, cited documents, and similar documents of the included literature were also carried out.
Of 762 papers identified, 15 articles matching the criteria were included. The prevalence of frailty among postmenopausal women ranged from 5.9% to 57.3%. Existing studies suggest that menopause is associated with frailty. Early menopause, hysterectomy, low-free testosterone levels, and high C-reactive protein levels may increase the likelihood of frailty among postmenopausal women. Few original studies have explored the relationship between estrogen and frailty and the results of these studies are conflicting. Changes in hormone and inflammatory cytokine levels may mediate frailty among postmenopausal women. More in-depth research would be required to better understand the physiological and etiological mechanisms of the occurrence of frailty among postmenopausal women.