Dizziness is common around menopause, and it does not usually indicate a medical problem. Causative factors include hormonal changes and fatigue, but dizziness can also result from an ear infection and other causes.
Menopause is the time when menstruation stops, and it is no longer possible to become pregnant. It is a natural transition that affects people with ovaries, usually during the midlife years.
It is not a disease or health condition, and it does not have symptoms, as such. However, some physical and mental changes and features are common around this time, including dizziness.
A Japanese study involving 471 females aged 40–65 years found that 35.7% of these participants experienced dizziness at least once a week.
The researchers considered that the following factors might play a role: age, menopause status, body composition, cardiovascular factors, sleep patterns, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and lifestyle characteristics.
In this article, we look at some causes of dizziness during menopause and the treatment options available.
Below are some reasons why dizziness is more common around the time of menopause.
Hormone levels fluctuate throughout a female’s life, but they start to change significantly during perimenopause. This transitional stage usually starts when a person is in their 40s.
Perimenopause can last between 2 and 8 years, but it has an average duration of 4 years, according to the Office on Women’s Health. Periods become irregular and eventually stop. When a year has passed since the last period, menopause starts. The average age at which menopause occurs in the United States is 52 years.
However, some people may experience menopause early. This transition can occur at a younger age if a person has a health condition or has undergone surgery or other treatment that affects their hormones or ovaries.
During perimenopause, the ovaries start to produce less estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for maintaining the reproductive system, but they may also play a role in the functioning of other organs, including the brain, ear, and heart.
These changes can lead to dizziness by affecting the following:
The inner ear
Problems with the ear can cause dizziness. Some experts believe that hormonal changes may influence the risk of this type of disorder.
The brain senses balance through the otoconia, an organ of the inner ear comprising tiny crystals called otoliths.
In a 2014 study, researchers looked at the data of 935 females who were experiencing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). In BPPV, a person experiences dizziness when they move or change position.
The results suggested that there may be a link between estrogen loss and a weakening of the otoconia. In other words, hormonal fluctuations might contribute to dizziness relating to the ear.
Metabolism is the process by which the body breaks down food into glucose and delivers it to the cells, where it provides energy. Estrogen helps maintain this process.
As estrogen levels fluctuate, this can affect blood glucose levels. As glucose levels rise and fall, the body’s cells may not receive a steady supply of energy, which can lead to fatigue and dizziness.
A 2017 study supports this, finding that menopause can significantly affect the levels of glucose and insulin in the blood.
When a person has an irregular heartbeat, the heart does not pump blood effectively around the body, and the blood cannot deliver the usual amount of oxygen. The reduction in oxygen reaching the cells may make a person feel lightheaded or dizzy.
Menopause is different than aging, and not everyone experiences it at the same time.
However, people often experience menopause during the midlife years, when age-related changes are also underway.
For example, the inner ear and other bodily systems may not work as well as they previously did. Various age-related factors can contribute to the dizziness that occurs around menopause.
In addition, some scientists have suggested that menopause may trigger epigenetic changes that can speed up the aging process, for example, in the blood.
Hot flashes, anxiety, and depression are all common features of menopause, and they can make it difficult to sleep well, according to the Sleep Foundation. People who do not get enough good quality sleep may experience dizziness due to fatigue.
In some cases, conditions that lead to dizziness can also affect a person’s sleep quality, according to research. Anyone who experiences ongoing sleep problems and dizziness should see a doctor, as these symptoms may be due to an underlying condition.
Get some tips on sleeping better.
Hot flashes affect about 75% of people during perimenopause.
A hot flash is a feeling of heat that temporarily spreads across the face, neck, and upper body. Dizziness can occur at the same time, as well as sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, a headache, and weakness.
If they happen during the night, hot flashes can affect sleep quality, and this can lead to dizziness during the day.
How does a hot flash feel, and what can I do about it? Find out here.
Many females with migraine say that they notice a link between migraine episodes and their menstrual cycle. For some, migraine symptoms improve during menopause. However, 45% of females with migraine say that episodes worsen around this time.
Migraine is common during menopause, and the Migraine Trust state that there is a close link between migraine and dizziness.
The authors of one study note that during menopause, some people start to experience a type of migraine that involves headaches and dizziness. They refer to this dizziness as epigone migraine vertigo.
Anxiety and stress
Anxiety and depression are common during menopause. Factors include hormonal changes, midlife events, and concerns about issues such as aging, health, and taking care of elderly parents.
In some cases, anxiety can lead to panic, which can involve palpitations and dizziness.
Researchers in Japan found that dizziness was common among women around the time of menopause. They also found evidence of a link between dizziness and anxiety. While they could not confirm that one factor caused the other, they suggested that treating anxiety might help reduce dizziness.
Get some more tips here on managing anxiety.
The following may help reduce the symptoms of dizziness.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.
Eating frequent small meals and snacks to help maintain blood sugar levels. People should opt for foods with complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables. The body breaks these down more slowly, so they help maintain a steady supply of energy.
Establishing a regular sleep schedule, with a consistent bedtime and waking time. Regular exercise and healthful eating can also improve sleep.
Managing stress through exercise, meditation, and yoga. Counseling may help people with severe or ongoing stress and anxiety. A healthful diet can also be beneficial.
Doing balance exercises to strengthen the muscles that support balance.
Keeping a journal to help identify foods, activities, and medications that may trigger symptoms.
Seeking medical help if new symptoms occur or existing symptoms persist, get worse, or are severe.
For more information on how to manage dizziness, click here.
People should seek medical help if dizziness worsens, persists, or affects daily activities. Various health conditions can lead to dizziness. A doctor can help identify whether the person has a condition that needs additional treatment.
The individual may be able to help the doctor by saying whether they feel:
- as though the ground is off balance or shifting
- as though the surroundings are spinning
Doctors can only treat dizziness by addressing the underlying cause.
For dizziness that results directly from menopause, lifestyle changes may help. For some people, however, hormone therapy may be appropriate.
Hormone therapy can help relieve various features of menopause, including dizziness. Hormone therapy provides supplemental estrogen or progesterone through oral medications, patches, or injections.
However, this treatment can lead to adverse effects in some people. An individual should discuss with their doctor whether hormonal therapy is suitable for them.
Dizziness is common during menopause, and some people will find that it improves as they move through the transition period.
However, people may also be more likely to experience dizziness as they get older or if they develop a health condition. A person should see a doctor if dizziness affects their quality of life or daily activities. It is also best to speak to a doctor if nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms accompany dizziness or if dizziness continues after menopause.