Too early for menopause – what is going on for a woman in her 40s?
Referred to as perimenopause, in this transition period the ovarian hormones are in a state of constant flux. This is responsible for giving women a high and a low emotional state which is often referred to as the “rollercoaster effect”.
This fact can often be overlooked due to its onset being 5-10 years before menopause, which has traditionally been the subject of greater medical emphasis.
As the function of the ovaries starts declining, the adrenal glands produce small quantities of sex hormones to make up for the loss. However, if there is any stress past or present which has not been dealt with adequately; there is increased cortisol secretion from the adrenals and even less sex steroid production. The demands of multi-tasking family and professional lives contributes to this stressful period.
It is a well-known fact that stress has a direct correlation with sleep so it’s of no surprise, sleep deprivation in turn escalates the stress response. Add plummeting hormones to the mix and you have a recipe for an emotional rollercoaster consisting of irritability, tears and feelings of insecurity.
Sleep disturbances are also particularly common as progesterone levels are dropping more than oestrogen. The imbalance in hormones can also cause difficulty in getting to sleep with multiple awakenings. Sleep is not only important for sanity and daily repair of our tissues. Sleep disruption also causes circadian biorhythm disturbances which carries on into menopause with added deleterious effects.