By Angela Gala
Contributor: Demiclare DeLa Cueva
The spring is when we can think of any re-blooming. It’s mating season in the animal world, and the leaves turn their brightest hue while plants bloom. Isn’t there, by any chance, a re-blooming in humans as well? Then I recalled…well, I landed menopause in spring! I heard there was something about women frequently hitting menopause at this time of year. It’ll be great to learn more about women’s re-blooming (meaning menopause) seasonality.
While your period may have changed over the last several years during perimenopause, you don’t technically hit menopause until your monthly period has stopped entirely. This means your body stops producing eggs for fertilization. There’s no more menstruation without the shedding of an unfertilized egg every month.
That’s where Mother Nature enters, which may play a much larger role in determining when a woman ends the reproductive phase of her life than previously thought. A new study suggests that the start of menopause may be linked to seasonal weather patterns.
Researchers found that the number of women reporting their first missed period peaked in the Spring and Autumn months to a lesser degree. The study appears in the current issue of Human Reproduction.
Researchers say seasonal variations in the reproductive functions of wild animals are well known, but this is among the first studies to look at their possible effect on humans.
Findings from the paper by Harlow et al., in this issue of menopause, discussing the longitudinal analysis of prospective monthly menopausal symptom reports from 955 participants in the SWAN study, provide unique data about the seasonality of hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep problems across the menopausal transition (MT).
Quoting another study finds, “The seasonality we found seems to support the influence of environmental factors on female human reproductive functions even when they are declining,” according to a researcher from the University of Pécs in Hungary in a news release.
How It May Be Tied to Seasons
Researchers surveyed 102 women treated at a menopause clinic in Hungary and asked them about the month of their first missed period. Seventy-two women remembered the exact month their menopause process started, and 30 could remember only the season.
Researchers say the results revealed seasonal variation in the start of menopause, with a peak after the Vernal (spring) Equinox and a smaller peak after the Autumnal Equinox. Amazing, right?! The fewest women reported starting menopause in the summer and winter months.
Researchers say more study is needed to understand this relationship between the seasons and the start of menopause. But they suggest that melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in the circadian rhythm or 24-hour body clock, could be involved in the process. Another study shows that a peak in hot flash reports was observed in July, while January had a trough in hot flash reports.
Like some aspects of reproductive function, menopausal symptoms appear to exhibit seasonal variation, according to new research from Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. The study assessed the impact of season and proximity to the final menstrual period (FMP) on the frequency of symptom reporting.
Women had 66% greater odds of a hot flash at their seasonal peak than their seasonal minimum in both the unadjusted model and the model adjusted for smoking, race, age at FMP, and body mass index. The corresponding odds for night sweats and sleep problems were 50% and 24%, respectively.
Pretty impressive, right?! ing