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The Impact of Trauma on Menopause

This is a subject I have actually avoided writing about until now. There are so many articles already available on menopause and perimenopause that I felt I had nothing to add.

But here’s the thing: everyone’s individual menopause journey is different

Our body’s response to hormonal changes is not only influenced by our genetics but also by the sum of our physical and emotional life experiences combined with present circumstances. This combination of factors dictates how we ride our own individual menopause wave.

Prolonged stress and trauma, suffered at various stages in our lives, if left unresolved, can influence how our bodies respond to the hormonal shifts we go through from midlife onwards.

Our Endocrine System manages both the production and secretion of a variety of hormones. The most well-known of these are:

  • Adrenalin and Cortisol, both secreted in varying amounts throughout the day, as a normal process
  • Melatonin, the sleep hormone
  • Insulin, the presence of which can lead to weight gain in later life
  • Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone
  • Oestrogen, Testosterone and Progesterone, which decline throughout perimenopause

Our Endocrine System can become stressed and overwhelmed just the same as any of the other systems in the body. The only difference is that this particular system if already overworked, can occasionally react a bit like a dysfunctional roller coaster. The added complication of menopause, with all its fluctuations and idiosyncrasies, being thrown into the mix alongside trauma can result in us becoming completely out of balance both physically and emotionally.

More and more women are experiencing increased levels of anxiety in perimenopause and depression in menopause

According to research in the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) journal Menopause,19th October 2022, “Psychosocial stressors in a woman’s life – from childhood through reproductive age – may lead to poorer wellbeing and worse menopause symptoms at midlife.” You can read the article here:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/history-of-stressors-and-trauma-may-predictworse-menopausal-symptoms/

Studies have shown that trauma can worsen menopause symptoms. One study on PTSD and Menopause suggests that from what has been uncovered so far, the connection between trauma and menopause merits serious study. Those who have experienced trauma in their lives often have a particularly difficult time in the perimenopause>menopause transition. Many report a resurgence of emotional symptoms and worse physical symptoms than those who haven’t experienced trauma.

Carolyn Gibson, PhD, who conducted this study, shared, “Our findings suggest that routine assessment and recognition of PTSD symptoms and lifetime traumatic exposures when women are seen by healthcare providers may enhance the effective management of menopausal symptoms.”

You can read the study here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2715160

The physical menopause symptoms associated with the changes in hormone levels are well-known and extensively documented

Greater recognition, awareness and communication with your healthcare provider may bring about more insights and better tools for your personal journey. This could lead to improved wellbeing physically, mentally, emotionally and potentially spiritually as well.

How can I help?

Many of the women I work with require support and strategies to move through and reduce the effects of these changes. For example, I can suggest a breathing technique which can reduce anxiety, a mindful way of bringing down a hot flush as it begins to creep up your body or even a simple trick to stop palpitations, amongst other things.

We can work on reducing stress and anxiety to help restore balance to the Endocrine System.

We can look at lifestyle changes and, if required, can discuss accessing nutritional or hormonal support.

With over 30 years of experience working with movement, including training as both a Pilates teacher and Scaravelli-inspired yoga teacher, I am able to access a vast range of exercises and stretches that can help tired muscles and stiff joints, in addition to weight-bearing exercises to help maintain bone density and pelvic floor tone.

Using skills from Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and Somatic Experiencing®, I can help you resolve some of your early life traumas. The end result of a truly holistic approach is that your passage through menopause can be smoothed, leading to a calmer and more comfortable way of being.

Somatic Experiencing® and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy are, by definition, trauma-attuned modalities. Used together, either online or in person, they can facilitate the resolution of embodied trauma. They do this in a very profound but gentle way, honouring the unique wishes and needs of each client.

If you think you could benefit from working with me, please get in touch. Email sarah@ytenehealing.co.uk or call me on 07747 111040.

Please remember to contact your medical practitioner in the first instance if you have any concerns regarding your health.

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