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What causes mood swings or irritability during menopause?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Mood swings or irritability during menopause can be a combination of hormonal changes and menopausal symptoms. Any attitudes or negative feelings that can significantly alter daily life or happiness should be addressed with your doctor.

For reasons still not well understood, declining and fluctuating estrogen levels during the menopausal transition can cause emotional highs and lows and irritability. Lack of sleep due to night sweats may also contribute to feeling irritable and depressed. Though your periods are coming to an end, you may continue to experience the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. In fact, emotional symptoms may become worse for some women as they approach menopause. You may also notice that you've lost interest in sex. Declining estrogen and changes in estrogen/testosterone ratios in women at this time may lower your sex drive.

Lifestyle strategies for coping with mood swings and sexuality concerns include:

  • Make physical activity part of your schedule; exercise can improve mood and make you feel better about yourself.
  • Try relaxation techniques such as meditation or massage, which can be calming and reduce irritability.
  • Discuss your symptoms and what may be causing them with your partner; try different approaches to intimacy. Nonhormonal vaginal creams or gels (prescription or nonprescription) are available that may help.
  • If moisturizers and lubricants are not enough, vaginal estrogen (a prescription medication) is available as creams, rings or tablets.

When sleep is disrupted and/or you are experiencing symptoms that affect your relationship with your partner, it can have an effect on your emotional outlook. Discuss with your healthcare professional whether your symptoms may be directly related to menopause or to some other changes that may be happening in your life at the same time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.