Most women experience menopause naturally. It is the stage when a woman permanently stops having menstrual periods. The average age of menopause is 51, but it can vary.
Nearly 26 percent of postmenopausal women report severe sleep disturbances, making insomnia one of the most common symptoms of menopause. This symptom often begins during perimenopause, which is a 3- to 10-year period of time before menopause occurs.
A study published in 2018 suggests that sleep quality is often worse for women who undergo surgical menopause than for women who experience menopause naturally.
What is Surgical Menopause?
Medical procedures that interfere with ovarian function can often cause premature menopause. For example, if a premenopausal woman has one or both ovaries removed, she may experience abrupt menopause. Surgical menopause may also stem from radiation of the pelvis and ovaries during cancer treatment.
Potential Causes of Increased Sleep Issues
Menopause can be challenging for any woman, but women who undergo surgical menopause tend to have increased symptoms of menopause. This includes a decrease in sleep quality. One possible cause for the difference is that surgical menopause results in a sharper drop in estrogen levels as opposed to the more gradual hormonal changes that result from natural menopause.
In one study, women were twice as likely to suffer from insomnia if they experienced surgical menopause. They also reported worse sleep quality, especially regarding the duration of sleep.
Hot flashes and night sweats are two well-known symptoms of menopause, which only serves to worsen sleep quality. Since all menopausal symptoms tend to be more intense in women who undergo surgical menopause, these severe physiological symptoms may make it psychologically harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The Importance of Early Treatment
Poor sleep quality can cause daytime fatigue, lower quality of life and a higher risk for other serious health conditions if the insomnia persists. The most common treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but treatment may vary on a case-by-case basis.
Women who are experiencing sleep problems after natural or surgical menopause should consult their doctor to determine the best course of treatment for their condition.