You likely know that perimenopause and menopause meet women with a collection of negative symptoms. However, what’s surprising and often misunderstood by society is that women in perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and menopause (marked by no menstrual period for at least one full year), often suffer from numerous pain conditions due to their fluctuating or reduced hormone levels. When a women reaches perimenopause, female sex hormones (estrogen and progestrone) become reduced and/or imbalanced. As a result, they often suffer from reduced pain tolerance and worsening chronic pain ailments, such as:
1. Ovary pain
During perimenopause, as estrogen levels dip and fluctuate, many women experience irregular periods with very heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), as well as severe uterine pain, linked to the ovaries. While menstruating women may experience some cramping due to the shedding of the uterine lining, perimenopausal women can experience ovary pain due to fibroid, endometriosis, and also due to normal fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone.
2. Neck and back pain
A larger percentage of menopausal women experience chronic neck and back pain during menopause due to gradual weight gain and stress on the joints and spine. Yet research from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) reveal that dips in estrogen may be linked to progressive disc deterioration, particularly in the neck and lumbar spine.
Arthralgia is a degenerative joint disorder, linked to inflamed joint tissues or rheumatic conditions (i.e., osteoarthritis). Increased levels of arthralgia are often linked to reduced oestrogen during menopause. Commonly referred to as menopausal arthralgia, research from the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), indicate that roughly 8 million U.S. women suffer from osteoporosis, particularly during their menopausal years when an estimated 1 in every 2 women suffer a bone fracture.
Statistics from the National Fibromyalgia Association note a significant number (between 80 and 90%) of women in their menopausal years also suffer from fibromyalgia. The link is believed to stem from reduced production of estrogen after menopause. Estrogen, in particular, triggers serotonin, a chemical linked to mood and pain. Researchers also note that female patients who already have fibromyalgia also tend to go into perimenopause and menopause earlier compared to other women.