I know, it’s an unfamiliar word, right?
Break it up and it becomes dis-equilibrium. Equilibrium’s more familiar to many and means a state of balance.
Disequilibrium is the opposite – unbalanced – and is a close relation of dizziness and vertigo.
The three go hand in hand for our purposes in this piece.
Because they’re very common occurrences during perimenopause.
When I thought about it, I realised dizziness had been one of my first signs though I had no idea at the time.
I remember it well though. I was speaking with a naturopath(!) friend on the ‘phone when I had a dizzy spell. When I mentioned it to her she said I’d probably moved too quickly. (I was on the bed lying down and sat up.) Even wearing her naturopath hat she didn’t connect the dots, and I certainly didn’t.
What do ‘the dizzies’ feel like?
The sensation of dizziness can be a feeling that everything is spinning, a loss of balance or feeling as if you’re going to faint. It may occur as the result of another meno sign such as a panic attack or anxiety, where your breathing and heart rate levels become rapid, disturbing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
There are three types:
Lightheadedness – when you feel a bit woo woo or faint.
Vertigo – when the room feels like its spinning.
Disequilibrium – when you feel unbalanced or unsteady on your feet.
What causes dizziness/vertigo during perimenopause?
That’s the $64,000 question!
Researchers don’t fully understand the connection. It could simply be a part of ageing. But issues linked with the hormonal fluctuations of midlife to do with the middle ear, blood sugar levels, and migraines could also be a cause.
The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone change a heck of a lot during perimenopause which can affect many bodily functions including the aforementioned as well as blood pressure, circulation, blood vessels, and the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Estrogen keeps all of these things ticking along nicely pre-menopause, but fluctuations can create havoc and bring on ‘the dizzies’. Estrogen also keeps our brain nice and balanced but when estrogen levels decline it can make the poor ole’ thing feel a little bewildered. Next thing you know? Dizzy spell.
Are you getting the picture? ‘The dizzies’ are rather a complicated issue. Let’s take a look at some of the common menopause-related causes.
Body temperature surges
Yes, those pesky blinkin’ things. Something like 80 percent of women going through the meno years experience these. If you can relate then you clearly understand why they’re crazy-making. This study talks about the link between body temperature and menopause-related dizziness. Indeed, research has shown that women who experience fluctuations in body temperature may also be more prone to feelings of dizziness or vertigo.
We’ve heard from many in our treasured MenoMe community who suffer from hormonal headaches or migraines. And while we always dislike being the bearers of bad news they absolutely can be triggered by perimenopause. If you have a past history they may even become worse. For anyone who has ever experienced a doozy you don’t need me to tell you dizziness can be a side effect.
There are not too many of us (I’d venture to say none) who haven’t gone without our full quota of sleep at least once in our lives. Therefore it’s pretty safe to say that we know how fatigue can make us feel off the planet. As sleep issues and insomnia are a massive meno issue it’s not difficult to see why this could be a contributing factor.
Our blood sugar levels are closely linked with our hormones, and the estrogen and progesterone changes of the meno years can have a direct effect on our body’s response to insulin. This can lead to unstable blood sugar levels, which in turn leads to dizzy moments.
The Middle Ear Factor
Most of us don’t actually realise that female hormone changes can affect our inner ears aka as the vestibular system. It’s why one of the signs of peri/menopause can be tinnitus or an incessant ringing in the ears. In addition, this area of the body is critical to our sense of balance so it makes sense that if all is not well vertigo or disequilibrium may be the result.
As mentioned earlier, while ‘the dizzies’ may be due to hormonal factors they could also simply be a sidekick of ageing. Indeed they’re more prevalent in both older men and women though the incidence is more common in women. More research is needed to discover why.
When Will It End?
Happy dance! I have good news :-). Menopause-related dizziness should only last through perimenopause. Once you reach post-menopause it should stop. One caveat though: episodes that occur for other reasons may still be an unwelcome visitor.
Did you know? Simple dehydration can cause dizziness so ensure you’ve drunk your H2O
What can you do?
A few simple precautions could nip your dizzies in the bud if they’re for minor reasons:
- Ensure you’re well hydrated. It’s even more crucial when your body’s going through the massive changes of the meno years. At least eight glasses a day should keep you well topped up. Herbal teas are great too, particularly in cooler seasons.
- Try ginger tea. It’s super tasty. Simply grate fresh ginger and steep it.
- Eat well and eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels nice and stable.
- Choose good proteins like nuts and eggs.
- Avoid processed and refined foods particularly the ‘whites’ like sugar and flour.
- Relax. I can’t say it often enough. We’re such stress bunnies today. Granted, it’s for good reason, even more so with the advent of COVID-19, but if you can take some you-time please do. Just 15 minutes of deep breathing or mindfulness will repay you in spades.
NB: If you’re feeling dizzy it’s best to check in with your doctor as there are so many different possible reasons such as a sinus or viral infection, low blood pressure, low iron or simply being dehydrated or hungry.
Disclaimer: This article should never take the place of medical advice. If you are experiencing ongoing dizziness please see your GP.