Perimenopause and Menopause

Perimenopause and Menopause

Women’s health is a very important topic every day.

By far the majority of the clients I see at Braid Health are women and there is nearly always a hormonal overlay to optimising their health, whatever stage they are in their lives.

So what exactly is the menopause?

It’s the cessation of menstruation, the life phase that begins 1 year after the last period. The age of most women starting menopause is 45-55 years.

And have you heard about the perimenopause?

This can be a time between 2-12 years before menopause, when hormones and fluctuating like a rollercoaster. Symptoms can include heavy periods, hot flushes and insomnia and these can start from age 35. About 20% of women will experience the dramatic rollercoaster ride!

So what hormones are we talking about here?

Firstly oestrogen, a very important hormone that affects multiple areas in our bodies from brain to gut to breasts and of course our reproductive organs. It has multiple functions including:

  • Increase in metabolic rate
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Maintains muscles
  • Improves sleep
  • Anti-inflammatory

And secondly there is progesterone, which prepares and sustains a woman’s body for pregnancy. Generally as ovulation stops, the progesterone level drops more rapidly than oestrogen and it is this imbalance in hormones which causes symptoms.
Other functions of progesterone include:

  • Neuroprotective calming effect
  • Eases anxiety
  • Supports immune system
  • Smooths skin and improves hair growth

Have you come across the “Grandmother theory”?
We are genetically programmed to stop reproduction relatively young to dedicate time to dependants and their offspring. Other mammals are not programmed this way. Orca whales are the only other species to undergo menopause.

Some suggestions that may help with symptoms in the perimenopause include:

  • Managing stress. Aim for good sleep and self care routine
  • Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol impairs healthy metabolism of oestrogen, and lowers progesterone and the calming action it has on the brain
  • Keep track of your cycles with a perimenopause diary. Here is one to try out: cemcor.ubc.ca
Women’s brains just ain’t the same

Women’s brains just ain’t the same

Concussion in Females
Women show signs of concussion later and for longer than men (3 weeks to 6 months for women).
Women concuss at a higher rate than men, differently to men and they recover differently. Hormones and the musculoskeletal structure of women’s necks may explain the differences in outcomes to men.

What are signs of concussion (or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI):

  • Dizziness and or vertigo
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Fuzzy or blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping more or less than usual.

The Research:

  • Females sustain more concussions at a higher rate than their male counterparts
  • Report a higher number and more severe symptoms than males
  • Women have longer recovery periods than males.

A woman will know more men than women who have concussions and may judge her own recovery by the male experience.

And IF her recovery spans more than a few weeks….

  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Self-doubt
  • Anxiety
  • can occur with significant impact on her day to day functioning, at home and at work.

One of the experts on the Pink Concussions research panel, Angela Colantonio, PhD, professor and director of the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto in Canada, conducted a study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, to see if menstrual functioning, fertility, and pregnancies were affected after a woman receives a mTBI. She and her colleagues found that 68 percent of the 104 observed women experienced irregular menstrual cycles after their injury as well as lower mental health and function.

What are the main causes of concussion in women:

  1. Sports
  2. Motor vehicle accidents
  3. Military
  4. Domestic Violence
  5. Falls in the elderly

Stats on concussion in females

Female basketball: 1 out of 2 collisions results in concussion.
Female Soccer: 1 out of 2 headers results in concussion.
30% Concussions from something other than sports – eg gym class.

Remember HEAD BUMPS:

    • Headache
    • Eye trouble
    • Abnormal behaviour
    • Dizziness
    • Balance dysfunction
    • Unsteady on feet
    • Memory impaired
    • Poor concentration
    • Something’s not right.
  • Seek urgent medical assistance if any of the above occur.

For more information you may enjoy Love your Brain – a great online resource for individuals, family or friends following a brain injury.