The Brain and Menopause

On average, women begin to experience symptoms of perimenopause around the age of 43. Let me tell you, these symptoms are not all in your head. The various changes during this time often bring about irritability, emotional outbursts, low desire for intimacy, lack of joy and memory decline. Yes, hormonal changes at menopause are often the common denominator to the various biological and psychological changes that mark this phase in a woman’s life. Albeit, this time of transition can be frustrating and, at times, overwhelming, it can also be a time of reflection, inspiration and great personal growth.

The brain controls everything we do and every thought we have. It monitors and regulates unconscious and voluntary actions and allows us to engage in thought, learning, creativity and memory. While the circuits within the brain do not change that much during menopause, estrogen, the fuel for pumping essential chemicals to the brain, starts to disappear.

When chemicals decline, symptoms begin to surge. Estrogen and progesterone produce chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine that control how the brain functions. In turn, many women find that the relay of information in the brain may be slowed and the signals are weaker. Additionally, women commonly experience hot flashes, joint pain, anxiety and depression. As testosterone levels begin to drop, intimacy impulses change. During perimenopause, the female brain is at the mercy of changing hormones.

While change can be difficult both physically and emotionally, studies indicate that women experience a newfound sense of freedom at menopause. With a positive attitude, information, understanding and support, the wisdom gained in the first half of your life can be channeled in a way to make the second half richer and more joyful.

Menopause can be one of the most emotional, stressful, psychologically draining times. We are here to help women transition into menopause and to help them make informed decisions. If you need to schedule a routine exam, have symptoms that are concerning or if you need to talk to a physician, please feel free to call my office at 208-232-6100.

About Kim Cox, MD

Dr. Cox is a board certified ob/gyn. He specializes in obstetrics and gynecology which include: normal and high risk obstetrics, ultrasound imaging, workup and treatment of urinary incontinence, annual (yearly or wellness) exams, infertility, and gynecological surgeries as well as being certified on the da Vinci surgical system.