Updated: Jun 2
The term "underbelly of menopause" generally refers to the less discussed or hidden aspects of the menopausal experience that may not receive as much attention or awareness. Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life, but it can be accompanied by various physical, emotional, and psychological changes that affect each woman differently.
I bring you the menopause underbelly mini-series of blogs. These are the less commonly discussed symptoms and challenges that some women may face during this transition. Insomnia, dry eyes, dry mouth, low libido, dry vagina, stubborn belly fat, recurrent thrush, recurrent UTIs, incontinence, painful intercourse, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, lack of confidence, second guessing yourself, joint pains, fatty liver, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, memory dysfunction, IBS type of symptoms, muscle cramps, restless legs, jaw clenching, Fibromyalgia like symptoms, crawling feeling under the skin, itching, rashes, acne, rosacea, tinnitus, palpitations, headaches, vertigo, medically unexplained chest pain, feeling faint, alopecia, facial hairs, back pain, muscle aches. The underbelly of menopause also extends to the psychological and emotional aspects, such as feelings of loss, grief, and a sense of aging. Menopause often marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and may trigger emotions related to identity, self-worth, and societal expectations and a feeling of invisibility and lack of desirability.
Today, we will focus on Insomnia in menopause:
Insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, can be a common symptom experienced during menopause. There are several factors that can contribute to insomnia in menopause.
#1. Hormonal changes:
During menopause, there is a decline in the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which can affect sleep patterns. Estrogen has a role in promoting sleep and regulating body temperature, so its decrease can lead to sleep disturbances.
#2. Hot flashes and night sweats:
Hot flashes, sudden feelings of heat, and night sweats, excessive sweating during sleep, are common symptoms during menopause. These can disrupt sleep and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. However, when women are observed in sleep studies laboratories for research purposes, it has been found that women wake up before the hot flashes happen. But there's no doubt that sweating and the sudden chills that follow the flash will wake anyone up.
#3. Mood changes and stress:
Menopause can be accompanied by mood swings, anxiety, and increased stress levels. These emotional changes can interfere with sleep and contribute to insomnia. ADHD is diagnosed late in females. ADHD and menopause symptoms overlap. If your brain is racing all night and can't seem to switch off, it may be worth looking at this excellent article on ADHD and menopause. https://balance-menopause.com/uploads/2022/08/ADHD-and-the-perimenopause-FINAL.pdf
#4. Other menopausal symptoms:
Symptoms such as vaginal dryness, urinary frequency, and joint pain can also disrupt sleep and contribute to insomnia.
#5. Lifestyle factors:
Certain lifestyle factors can worsen insomnia during menopause. These can include poor sleep habits, caffeine consumption, self-medication with alcohol, lack of physical activity, weight gain, poor relationships, not coping at work, and excessive electronic device use before bed.
#6. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) e.g Sleep apnoea