Handgrip strength and endurance may be associated with age at menopause and time since menopause completion, according to findings presented by Lee and colleagues in a poster session at the 2022 North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting held October 12 to 15 in Atlanta, Georgia.1

Decreasing estrogen levels following the transition into menopause may affect muscle mass, strength, and endurance. To evaluate the effect of time since menopause completion on muscle strength and endurance, researchers from the University of Minnesota recruited 32 older females (mean age, 62±4 years). Participants completed laboratory testing for hormone levels and performed maximum voluntary contractions (MVC) testing to measure handgrip strength (Figure). To assess endurance, they also completed a submaximal handgrip exercise to fatigue.

Three maximum voluntary contractions of the hand were used to measure peak strength. Credit: Lee et al.1

On average, the participants completed menopause at age 50±4 years, the time since menopause completion was 12±6 years, circulating estrone levels were 23.0±9.4 pg/mL, estradiol levels were 5.0±2.8 pg/mL, MVC force was 157±30 N, and time to fatigue (TTF) was 214±145 seconds.

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The force of MVCs was negatively correlated with TTF (r=-0.684; P <.001). A positive relationship was observed between time from menopause completion and TTF (r=0.583; P <.001) and a negative relationship was observed between time since menopause completion and MVC force (r=-0.385; P =.029).

Fatigue was also related with current age (r=0.385; P =.030), menopause age (r=-0.486; P =.005), and estrone level (r=-0.374; P =.038).

Fatigue was not associated with estradiol and strength was not associated with estrone or estradiol.

The role of menopause age in mediating age-related decline in strength should be further investigated to develop interventions to preserve strength in postmenopausal females, the study authors concluded.

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency Linked to Handgrip Strength

A second study from the NAMS meeting showed that postmenopausal women with primary ovarian insufficiency are at increased risk for decreased handgrip, according to a poster study by Kim et al.2

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers examined handgrip strength from a nationally representative cohort of 1112 women aged 19 to 79 years. A total of 60 female participants reported primary ovarian insufficiency, which was defined as experiencing a last menstrual period before age 40 years.

Women with primary ovarian insufficiency had a significantly lower handgrip strength compared with women without this condition (25.0 kg vs 27.4 kg; P <.001), and the association remained significant after adjusting for age, ethnicity, education level, family income, high-risk alcohol intake, smoking status, physical activity, and use of hormone therapy.

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1. Lee EJ, Tahsin CT, Stokes W, et al. Menopause age and time from menopause completion are associated with handgrip strength and endurance in older females. Poster presented at: 2022 NAMS Annual Meeting; October 12-15, 2022; Atlanta, GA.

2. Kim H, Han J, Kim SW. Association of primary ovarian insufficiency with handgrip strength in US women: a national population-based study. Poster presented at: 2022 NAMS Annual Meeting; October 12-15, 2022; Atlanta, GA.