Menopause and stress have a very special link. Menopause can be such a stressful event for some women, both mentally and physically, that it sometimes triggers an alarm response that is disproportionate to the reality that is being experienced.
Our staff of doctors and specialists collaborated in the preparation of this article
Menopause is a physiological event: between the ages of 45 and 55 ovarian activity slows down (until it stops completely), the production of estrogen progressively decreases and the menstrual cycle becomes irregular , until it finally disappears.
This is a completely normal condition, but for some women it can be very tiring to accept.
It happens because the most common ailments of menopause can bring, in everyday life, a discomfort that can test your serenity and quality of life.
The role of hormones in menopausal stress
The drop in hormone production not only produces effects on the body but also on the brain: estrogen , in particular, plays an important role in regulating blood pressure, body temperature ( hot flashes are explained here) and sleep rhythm.
At a chemical level, the changes in hormone levels, although completely normal in menopause, are also responsible for a reduction in the levels of serotonin , the so-called “happiness hormone”.
Here is that when the ability to feel joy and light-heartedness decreases, precisely because of the reduction in serotonin levels, a sense of defeat, overwhelm, fatigue and tiredness can intervene: in a word what the English have summarized with the word stress .
In a new moment in a woman’s life, this can be a very uncomfortable corollary of menopause : in most cases it is a feeling that can affect the serenity of the days and the tranquility of everyday life, but in the most serious situations it can increase. the risk of depression , anxiety and can exacerbate the consequences of cardiovascular disease or hypertension.
For these reasons the menopausal stress should never be underestimated: the ‘ anxiety and irritability in menopause may be normal (a little’ as they did in the days of PMS), but when certain emotional states will become particularly intense is critical to seek medical attention.
The gynecologist you trust in the years of menopause and perimenopause can also be the right person to confide in: he will be the one to evaluate if you need to go to a psychologist.
What are the symptoms of stress in menopause
The most common symptoms resulting from stress are:
- nervousness and irritability
- feeling of unjustified fear or panic
In this period they could “overlap” with the disorders of menopause , causing a significant emotional load but also possible consequences on the level of health and life as a couple.
It could happen, for example, that the episodes of insomnia (common in this period) also increase due to the stress deriving from the physical changes caused by the end of the fertile age. For some women, worry about weight gain typical of menopause can also be a source of stress : looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself in the new image can lead to irritability, anger, feelings of anxiety and depression .
In addition, some intimate disorders such as those related to Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy which affects one in 2 women in menopause , can make the couple’s mood less serene and determine a domestic tension that contributes to making the management of psychophysical balance even more difficult. in this period .
When menopausal stress can jeopardize romantic relationships
In the first years of menopause it is easy not to feel understood : husband, children, who can fully understand certain hormonal “earthquakes” if they do not experience them on their own skin?
So it can happen to be more nervous in the family and fall into easy tears at the slightest argument.
Many women, despite living a stable and satisfying emotional relationship , can suddenly find themselves more “closed” even in the relationship with their partner. Some hassles of Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy , such as pain during intercourse or intimate itching and irritation , are anything but friends of a peaceful couple relationship , but the risk that cortisol and adrenaline produced due to stress further reduce the desire for intimacy is high.
Combat the symptoms of stress in menopause
Your health and your serenity are essential at any age, but even more so in this delicate phase of your life. Take care of yourself, pamper yourself and let yourself be pampered, find quality time to be with friends or practice an activity that relaxes you and makes you feel good.
These are small but fundamental precautions to experience a serene menopause as much as possible (without ever neglecting, remember, the periodic checks by the gynecologist ).
Here are some useful guidelines to combat stress and take care of your psycho-physical well-being:
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet, which takes into account the particular nutritional needs in menopause .
- Avoid smoking and alcohol: they are not friends with your health and they don’t even help you fight stress, far from it.
- Practice regular physical activity: if you are rather lazy, approach gentle disciplines such as yoga or pilates . In addition to relaxing and toning the muscles, they help to control breathing by promoting general relaxation of the body and mind . If you don’t like this kind of activity, even long walks with friends can be enough, as long as you do them regularly.
- It takes care of the quality of sleep: menopause is not a friend of quality rest but there is a lot you can do to improve it (for example, avoid coffee and tea in the afternoon and get used to the ritual of a relaxing herbal tea after dinner ).