Women who experience headaches, irritability and mood swings as menopause nears will likely see these symptoms diminish as menopause progresses, new research suggests.
"So many symptoms are attributed to menopause, with the belief that they get worse with menopause," Dr. Ellen W. Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, told Reuters Health. But "a number of women will find relief once menopause is reached."
Freeman and colleagues followed 404, 35- to 47-year-old women for nine years to investigate how typical menopausal symptoms, along with concentration problems and anxiety, might change over the course of menopause.
They found that women who experienced headaches saw them diminish as menopause approached. Irritability and mood swings also decreased in the menopausal transition as assessed by hormone levels. Levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) increase with menopause, and Freeman and her team found that both mood swings and irritability fell as FSH levels rose.
They also found that women who had premenstrual syndrome were more likely to experience irritability and mood swings with menopause, as were those with high levels of perceived stress.
This study shows that bothersome symptoms commonly linked to menopause diminish with the physiologic changes that occur in the transition to menopause.
While several options are being explored to treat these types of menopausal symptoms, including certain antidepressant drugs and estrogen patches, there is currently no single best therapy for them, Freeman said. "There is no 'one treatment fits all' at this time," she said.
But Freeman pointed out that many women experience no symptoms with menopause, or don't find their symptoms particularly troublesome. While a woman who finds that symptoms interfere with her daily life should talk to her doctor about treatment, she added, "menopause is not a disease or a disorder."