Menopause is a natural part of the reproductive cycle for women. The end of a woman’s menstrual cycle usually happens between the ages of 45-55, and it's diagnosed after a woman has gone a full year without a period.
With menopause comes several biological changes in the body that can impact many things, including mood. Thankfully, there are ways to help manage mood swings during this time.
Dr. Staci McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN have over 25 years of experience helping women deal with menopause and many other issues.
What happens during menopause
Over time, the reproductive cycle slows down and eventually stops. The closer the body is to menopause the less the ovaries will produce the hormone estrogen.
The initial stage is called perimenopause, but the menstrual cycle doesn't stop until menopause. At that point, the production of hormones is very low and eggs have stopped completely. After this point, women are referred to as postmenopausal.
How it impacts mood
Among the many hormonal changes the body goes through during menopause (hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, libido changes, weight gain, hair thinning, joint aches and pains, etc.) emotional changes are typical of at least 23% of women.
Common mood swings during this time include:
These changes impact between 40-70% of women. The reduction of hormones over time is believed to impact the production of serotonin and norepinephrine. These are chemicals the body releases during moments of stress. The resulting hormonal imbalance from menopause can reduce these in the body and cause mood swings, among other things.
What can be done to help
There are different medications and treatments available to ease the side effects. Counseling and lifestyle changes (changes in diet, sleep, and exercise) and support groups can be beneficial. Antidepressants and hormone therapy can also help, but long term hormone therapy can create other risks.
Reintroducing hormones back into the body has shown some benefits early in menopause. That said, long term use can cause cardiovascular problems or increase breast cancer risks. As a result, it's often recommended in moderation with other treatment options.
Each patient will need to get a specific treatment option from a specialist.
Help is available for managing these and other side effects during menopause. Make an appointment with Dr. McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN today, so you can find the best way to help cope with these natural changes.