01 Oct Researchers discover seasonal shifts in menopause symptoms
Are you in perimenopause (the years leading up to your final menstruation) or menopause (the few years right after your final period)? A 2019 study reveals that there’s a seasonal shift in perimenopause and menopause symptoms.(1)
Here’s what the study authors found:
When the days in your hemisphere are longest, your odds of experiencing common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause are highest. And when the days in your hemisphere are shortest, your odds of experiencing these symptoms are lowest.
For the northern hemisphere, the study results concluded that….
The odds of hot flashes are 66% higher in July than January.
The odds of night sweats are 50% higher in June than November
The odds of sleep troubles are 25% higher in July than January.
Those living in the southern hemisphere would see their symptoms spike during their summer and subside during their winter.
One reason for this seasonal shift: A change in your level of melatonin as the amount of daylight changes. Melatonin is a hormone that’s best known for helping to regulate sleep. However, it also regulates other functions in the body and brain that impact symptoms that can arise when estrogen drops during this life phase.
The study details
Researchers examined monthly journals from 995 participants of the well-respected Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) who were recording their perimenopause and menopause symptoms for up to 10 years.
The study authors noticed several trends: They saw that the prevalence of hot flashes and night sweats increase four years before the final menstrual period. They also observed that there was a significant jump in symptoms right at the time of the final menstrual period. “This was particular notable because women didn’t know this was their final menstrual period,” says lead study author Siobán Harlow, Ph.D., in a press video. This means that noticing a sharp spike in symptoms can be a key indicator for women who are wondering when their last period will be.
But, the researchers made an even more intriguing discovery while reviewing the monthly journals: They realized that common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause followed a distinct pattern–increasing around the summer solstice and decreasing around the winter solstice.
Why this is important to know
While seasonal shifts in perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms is an interesting tidbit, it’s also useful information for you and your healthcare provider to know. That’s because you may be able to tailor treatments for your symptoms around the seasons if you notice they change in frequency for you.
Watch the video for the full report: links.lww.com/MENO/A476
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(1) Siobán Harlow, et al., “Monthly variation of hot flashes, night sweats, and trouble sleeping: effect of season and proximity to the Final Menstrual Period (FMP) in the SWAN Menstrual Calendar substudy,” Menopause, September 23, 2019