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Menopause and MS

June 17, 2016

There is very little research that has been done on the impact that menopause has on MS. Since the symptoms of these tend to overlap, it is unclear whether menopause worsens MS-related disabilities. Conducted studies have shown that in some women menopause has a possibility to be linked with worsened symptoms, but there are larger studies that need to be conducted in order to determine that.

An assistant professor at the University Of California San Francisco School Of Medicine, Riley Bove, MD, is only one of few researchers who investigate menopauses effect on MS. Bove said the impact of menopause is different for all women and depends on the individual. She stated, “For some women, menopause and midlife are a time of major change, including changes in employment, family structure and more.” She said for other women this appears to not be the case since due to hormone level changes, hot flashes, mood changes, sleep, energy levels and bladder functions can be experienced.

These life changes and symptoms can definitely be experienced by women with MS, therefore it is possible for some women to have worsened MS symptoms as well. 

Bove and her colleagues surveyed 513 women with MS by using an online research platform. 53 percent of these women were postmenopausal and those who had their ovaries removed and had surgically-induced menopause reported having MS symptoms that were more severe than those who had gone through natural menopause. 124 women were followed for around 10 years as they transitioned through menopause and for the most part it appeared that menopause did not have a large effect on MS symptoms. The studies show some kind of relationship between the two but further studies are said to have been needed to determine this.

It can also be difficult to distinguish symptoms between those of MS and those of menopause. It is important to distinguish the difference when deciding on a treatment right for you as they will differ for each thing.

After menopause, there is a decline is estrogen which will affect the nervous system or have an impact on the inflammation and immune system activity, which causes myelin loss in MS. On the bright side, researchers are studying estriol which is another form of estrogen secreted in large amounts during pregnancy, as a potential treatment for relapsing remitting MS.