- Transition states
- Neurological Symptoms
- Estrogen and the estrogen receptor
Because you are not going crazy and you are not dying! Huzzah.
This paper explains how changes in your personal estrogen levels due to perimenopause have a significant impact on your personal brain chemistry. So your symptoms may officially originate in your head, but it’s not all in your mind.
Perimenopause, or the menopausal transition, is the midlife transition state experienced by women that causes the slowdown and ultimate end of womens’ reproductive system’s functions. When perimenopause begins, most women also have fully functioning neurological systems, meaning that their nervous system is balanced and working properly.
The symptoms associated with perimenopause are largely neurological, despite the fact that perimenopause is usually discussed in the context of the reproductive system. These symptoms (including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, energy balance, disruptions to memory, mood changes, and others) indicate that multiple estrogen-regulated systems are being disrupted in the brain.
Estrogen, a hormone, is known as a master regulator. It affects many body systems through a network of estrogen receptors, all of which work together to direct the brain to respond appropriately in rapid, intermediate and long timescales to maintain the body’s metabolism. Metabolism is defined as all the chemical reactions that take place in your body to convert the food you eat into the energy you need to function properly.
During the menopause transition, the network of estrogen receptors becomes disconnected from the systems that work together to maintain metabolic balance. This can trigger dysfunction in these systems, and may in fact, increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases later in life. This means that the menopausal transition has the potential to be a time where later neurological diseases could be prevented.
Brinton, R., Yao, J., Yin, F. et al. Perimenopause as a neurological transition state. Nat Rev Endocrinol 11, 393–405 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2015.82
The lead author, Roberta Brinton, PhD, is the director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. Dr. Brinton is a leading neuroscientist in the field of Alzheimer’s, the aging female brain and regenerative therapeutics.
It is published in the Nature Reviews series, which are highly credible and part of the Nature family of journals. ‘Nature’ was first published in 1869 and continues to be the leading international weekly journal of science.