Many research studies have concluded that there is a definite link between the onset of menopausal symptoms and the seasons. Numerous theories exist on what exactly drives this phenomenon. Some studies have looked at melatonin’s involvement. Melatonin is naturally secreted by the pituitary gland and can influence ovarian steroid hormone production. Melatonin is one of the best markers of the circadian systems in humans. Decreased sensitivity to estrogen in the hypothalamus at menopause thereby may culminate in circadian rhythm disturbances.
Studies have shown that menopause tends to blossom in the springtime for many women, just as the typical rebirth of blooming flowers and trees. This is paralleled in wild animals with their springtime breeding and reproductive function, but has been tested very little in human subjects.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very common during the winter months for many people, not just menopausal women. Seasonal Affective Disorder produces depression like symptoms merely due to lowered levels of sunlight in sensitive people. Many women never have issues with SAD until they enter menopause when it all of the sudden appears.
Other studies have pointed not just to seasons but actual weather conditions to bring on certain symptoms. For example, hot weather definitely affects the vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and heat exhaustion, when nothing else in the body has changed. Cold, windy, rainy weather can aggravate menopausal depression as well as aching muscle and joint pain that often appears for the first time during menopause. It is during the menopause years that many women start falling into the “old wives tale” trap of being able to predict changes in weather patterns because certain body parts or joints start aching.
Treatments and coping skills follow along with those for other menopausal symptoms. Exercise, vitamins and herbs are quite helpful as are lifestyle changes to boost the energy level and immunity. In extreme cases antidepressants or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be necessary. For Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that is severe enough, the standard light box therapy may need to be administered. Fortunately, sensitivity to weather patterns and seasons is quite manageable and not one of the worst problems that pre menopausal and menopausal women have to deal with during their transition time.