Menopause is the official end of fertility, and it’s marked by 12 consecutive months without a menstrual cycle. Perimenopause is the natural transition into menopause. Both menopause and perimenopause can cause a host of unpleasant physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
The hormonal shifts associated with entering into menopause don’t just affect your physical well-being. Menopause can affect your mental health, too.
Here’s what you need to know about menopause and your mental health, courtesy of our team here at OB/GYN Care Orlando in Oviedo, Florida.
Just as with puberty, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, your hormones play a significant role during menopause.
During perimenopause 一 a word which translates to “around menopause” 一 your progesterone and estrogen levels start to decrease. Once you reach menopause, your hormones stabilize again, but it can be a rollercoaster until then. The shifting hormone levels can cause hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and insomnia, and on average, these symptoms can last up to 7.4 years after your last period.
Even the slightest change in your hormones can create changes in your body. For example, when estrogen decreases, your glands release other hormones in response. The increase of those hormones affects your brain's thermostat, causing your body temperature to fluctuate.
Because your ovaries also produce testosterone, you may experience decreased testosterone levels as your ovaries undergo changes in premenopause and menopause. Although women don’t have as much testosterone as men, women still need testosterone for producing new blood cells and enhancing sex drive. Even a small dip in testosterone levels can cause a ripple effect.
Menopause can affect your mental health in a few ways.
Shifting hormones don’t just affect your physical body. They also affect your brain. Low estrogen levels can contribute to increased irritability, anxiety, and depression. To compound the matter, your mood can change quickly from low to high. In other words, you might find yourself laughing one minute and crying the next.
Because estrogen exhibits mood-enhancing effects, low estrogen levels during menopause can increase your risk of depression two to four-fold. The mood swings and low feelings associated with menopause can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, such as anxiety, OCD, or bipolar disorder.
Not only does low estrogen contribute to mood swings, but the other symptoms of menopause can take a toll on your mental wellness. For instance, insomnia is a common menopause symptom, and night after night without enough sleep can contribute to mood swings, exacerbate anxiety, irritability, and make it difficult to concentrate.
Although much of the conversation regarding menopause focuses on estrogen and progesterone, the reality is that low testosterone can also cause emotional strife. Low testosterone is associated with irritability, increased risk of anxiety and depression, sadness, memory problems, and trouble concentrating.
Whether you’re at work trying to hide sweat marks from a hot flash or you’re trying to manage vaginal dryness during intimate times, clearly these symptoms can deplete your self-confidence.
Fortunately, you don’t have to let menopause rule your mental wellness. There are many strategies for supporting your mental and physical wellness during perimenopause and menopause, including:
Even with these lifestyle modifications, menopause can still be tricky to manage on your own. Dr. Gene Krishingner, Jr. helps you manage your menopausal symptoms by targeting the source of your physical and mental symptoms: hormonal imbalances.
Dr. K created a custom hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plan to replace the estrogen you’ve lost. Depending on your specific needs, you may also benefit from progesterone. HRT is available in many forms, including pills, creams, patches, injections, pellets, and inserts. The goal of HRT is to balance your hormones, minimize your symptoms, and restore peace to your body and mind.
If you’re struggling with the mental effects of menopause, schedule an appointment at our Oviedo, Florida, office at 321-304-6249. You can also schedule an appointment online.