Summer, Stress and Menopause

pohutukawa new zealand christmas tree

Summer and stress? Yes indeed, you did read that right. Most of us love summer, the longer days, the balmy nights. But if you’re in your menopausal years, the summer can be super challenging – especially for women down under. There are the obvious temperature increases which will not be kind to ‘women on fire’, but these are only part of the picture. The real problem is that our summer months coincide with Christmas, New Year and long holidays – which is the perfect recipe for stress and menopause symptoms.

Why are summer holidays, stress and menopause a problem?

Because this is one of the most stressful times of the year for women and stress is one of the biggest triggers of our menopause signs.

Don’t get me wrong, there are summer days that are truly relaxing and reinvigorating. But the path to getting to those moments is like being on an express stress train for many women.

From the beginning of December, and earlier for many, our to-do lists start going in to overdrive – Christmas gift shopping, put up the Christmas tree, Christmas day meal planning, organising the family holiday, end of year school functions, work functions, care for children or grandchildren over the school holidays, end of year work deadlines – we become time poor and bank balance poor.

shopping

As we enter the fray to complete our tasks, we encounter more road traffic, longer queues at the supermarket and retail staff stretched to their limits – oh how my heart goes out to all of you meno-women working in retail right now!

This all adds up to a supercharged cocktail of STRESS!

How do stress menopause impact each other?

Well, to give you a quick biology lesson, your body produces two hormones when under stress, called cortisol and adrenaline – often called our fight or flight hormones. These are produced in your adrenal glands which sit on top of your kidneys. During menopause, the adrenal glands take over some of the work of the diminishing ovaries and produce small amounts of progesterone and estrogen.

When we experience stress, the body becomes primed for attack, and the adrenal glands choose to produce cortisol and adrenaline over the production of estrogen and progesterone. This is bad news for menopausal women, who are already suffering from a variety of signs caused by diminishing levels of these hormones.

We need more of these hormones, not less!

Also, progesterone and estrogen work against the impact cortisol has on our body. Our body can buffer stress before menopause, because we have optimal levels of progesterone. Once those levels start to lower during perimenopause, the cortisol buffering effect weakens.

The resulting high levels of cortisol can cause insomnia, digestive problems, weight gain especially around the middle, low sex drive, body aches and pains and low mood. Sound familiar? Some of the exact same signs of menopause.

So briefly, stress and menopause together exacerbates, aggravates and heightens the signs of menopause itself.

Throw in the heat of summer and our increased consumption of alcohol over the festive period, and you are at risk of having your menopause signs out of control.

So if you have got through winter managing to keep your menopause signs in check, now’s not the time to let up. Or, if you have been struggling with your menopause signs throughout the year, it’s time to take some action so that you can truly enjoy the summer days ahead.

Summer stress

Some simple ways to keep stress and menopause symptoms under control over summer:

  • Focus on a diet that keeps your blood sugar levels balanced. A variety of vegetables and good quality protein is perfect. Too much coffee and cake will increase your cortisol production
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Relaxation/meditation – even five minutes can produce a result
  • Walking – in the brilliant summer sunshine!

Share with a friend

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

Sign up to our mailing list for the latest news and stories and receive a $5 discount code to redeem on your first 40+ or 55+ purchase, plus receive a 3 step eBook on ways to support your your body through menopause…

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top

Post-menopause


This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.

Perimenopause

Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.