Hot flushes. Weight gain. Brain Fog. Sleep problems. These are some of the more well-known physical symptoms of menopause, but menopause can also take a mental toll. It's a milestone that has long had negative connotations in Western culture (a perception that is finally changing as its embraced as the "Second Spring") and this can lead to anxiety and stress. But the menopause can itself modulate feelings:
"There is a close link between the central nervous system and female sex hormones," explains Dr Laure Martinat, an expert in micronutrition, "There is a phenomenon of neuromodulation: female hormones interact with certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA. These are neurotransmitters that influence mood but also impact anxiety, so there is a psycho emotional impact."
Stress may not only be a symptom of menopause but it also has the potential to exacerbate the physical symptoms. We examine the connection between stress and the menopause, and consider how to soothe stress and find serenity while navigating this pivotal change.
What are Menopause and Perimenopause?
Menopause marks the conclusion of a woman's menstrual cycle, officially recognised as the period 12 months after her last menstrual flow. Preceding menopause is perimenopause, a transitional phase characterised by unpredictable changes in a woman's period. For most women, menopause starts between 45 and 55, but that can depend on several factors including BMI, diet, alcohol intake and exposure to tobacco smoke. These factors can all alter oestrogen metabolism, a hormone which decreases during menopause.
Does Menopause Elevate Stress Levels?
In stressful situations, our levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol rise, triggering the release of glucose into the bloodstream to provide energy for suitable reactions in ‘fight or flight’ scenarios. When we are in a relaxed state again, our cortisol levels lower. However, as oestrogen normally plays a role in regulating cortisol, a decrease in oestrogen during menopause has been linked to women in menopause experiencing heightened levels of the stress hormone (1).
Menopause may also elevate stress via a lack of sleep. 40 – 60% of menopausal women experience sleep disturbance (2), and a recent meta-analysis of 24 studies found higher odds of experiencing sleep disturbance in perimenopause and post-menopause, compared to pre-menopausal women (3). Lying awake at night, unable to switch off from the day's tribulations can be stressful, and research continues to suggest a link between menopausal sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life, mood, and productivity (4).
Do Elevated Stress Levels Worsen Symptoms of Menopause?
Increased stress levels in menopausal women can worsen some physical symptoms. For example, stress can contribute to sleeping problems and mood swings, as well as trigger hot flushes through bouts of anxiety. Menopause-triggered stress can also lead to weight gain through coping mechanisms such as comfort eating, decreased magnesium levels which increase appetite, or even insulin resistance which can increase weight (5). Notably, some researchers even suggest the possibility of a link between elevated stress levels and an early onset of menopause (6,7).
How to Lower Menopausal Stress
There are several stress-busting techniques that menopausal women might find useful. Exercising regularly can have a positive impact on lowering stress (8), and relaxation activities including mindfulness meditation, yoga, breathing techniques and walks in nature may prevent and aid in recovery from stress. Health professionals also recommend a diet rich in probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, E, D, selenium, and magnesium to help lower stress and anxiety.
Leapfrog’s SNOOZE tablets, a chewable blend of Lactium®, Lactoferrin and Vitamin B6 can also be of benefit, being designed to help calm a stressed and overactive mind. By increasing levels of the calmative neurotransmitter GABA, the Lactium in SNOOZE is shown to reduce the hyperexcitability of neurons and levels of cortisol. As SNOOZE tablets also contain Vitamin B6 (that helps to produce sleep-promoting melatonin) and Lactoferrin (to bolster an immune system negatively affected by poor sleep) they are particularly valuable for menopausal women navigating nights dominated by stress and hot flushes. So don’t let menopause stress get the better of you: pop a SNOOZE, and let tranquillity infuse.
What Leapfrog SNOOZE Customers Say...
“I cannot live without SNOOZE tablets! I have found that they are fantastic at calming my menopausal anxiety. Social outings to new places and dental visits have become more bearable since taking SNOOZE. They also stop me from clenching my jaw in my sleep which means I get a better quality of sleep and wake up without the face and tooth pain that usually accompanies jaw clenching. For me SNOOZE is a little pink pill of magic which has given me my life back. Thank you x” Donna G. verified customer
“I wish I had known about Leapfrog SNOOZE at the height of my peri-menopause 'no sleep' stage. I still suffer from erratic sleep patterns and I’m 62. This has made such a difference to getting a good night’s sleep. I would highly recommend them. No more lying awake staring at the ceiling hoping sleep will come. What a revelation.” Elaine D. verified customer