Physiological Changes During Menopause
The physiological effects of menopause are relatively straightforward and, without the treatment of hormone therapy, are shared almost consistently among all menopausal women. These include the following:
- A significant drop in estrogen levels, which can cause hot flashes, dizziness and insomnia.
- It can also alter the appearance, elasticity, lubrication and blood volume of the vagina, all of which may create tensions in a marriage because they may influence the desire to participate in or the ability to perform during sexual intercourse.
- This in turn may exacerbate any other negative emotions that may exist during or as a result of menopause.
According to an author, however, it is not so much the physiological changes in the woman's body that may contribute to changes in a woman's interest in sex. Rather, it is the "hormonal levels, health and social changes associated with aging, and the mental and emotional effects of being recently menopausal" that influence such change.
Menopause can have distinct influences on a woman's mental health however it is fair to note that not all women are influenced equally and that the mental of some woman are not effected at all. Because menopause can create for the female episodes of extreme emotionality due to fluctuations and changes in hormone balance and concentration, it is not unusual to expect that the experience of menopause may also generate a variety of moods including anxiety or depression. Research from Paper Masters suggests in a research paper that these emotional responses to hormonal change are less for the purpose of creating conflict in the marriage but rather are primitive, biological safeguards that are expected to influence the female to protect and to avoid separation from her children.
An author echoes this assertion by pointing to the results of a study that suggests grandmothers actually play a greater role in rearing their grandchildren at the same time that they can no longer bear children of their own. The study involved peri and post menopausal women from the Hazda tribe. Although maternal characteristics were common prior, they were recognizably enhanced after the onset of menopause. This study would imply that the moods of anxiety and depression are not necessarily negative during this stage in a woman's life.