Menopause and Multiple Sclerosis

Menopause and Estrogen (Oestrogen)

During menopause, a woman’s body stops producing significant amounts of the hormone estrogen.

Estrogen affects how the immune system functions.

It may help to protect nerves affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) in the brain and spinal cord.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) illness that affects people of all ages .

The immune system destroys nerve fibers and myelin coating (a fatty substance that surrounds and protects healthy nerve fibers) in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in MS.

Inflammation occurs as a result of the attack, which affects nerve cell processes and myelin, changing electrical messages in the brain.

Ninety-percent of people will be diagnosed with a relapsing-remitting course of disease.

MS Symptoms

Common symptoms of a relapse may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Blurred vision, double vision or loss of vision
  • Unsteady gait
  • Weakness

These symptoms usually last a few days or weeks before subsiding partially or fully on their own or with therapy.

People may then go weeks, months, or even years without experiencing any symptoms (known as remission).

Most persons with MS will have MS symptoms that will worsen over time if they do not receive therapy (known as relapsing).

Menopause and MS

While menopause may provide a welcome break from monthly periods, it can also bring with it new symptoms such as

  • hot flashes,
  • vaginal dryness, and
  • sleep disturbances.

It might be difficult for women with multiple sclerosis (MS) to distinguish between MS symptoms and indicators of menopause.

Does menopause make MS worse?

According to a 2015 study, the rate at which MS worsens after menopause may accelerate slightly.

However, a 2018 research of 37 women indicated that while MS did not worsen quicker after menopause, relapses were less common.

While she may notice that her MS worsens when her menstrual cycle ends, the fact that MS worsens as people age further complicates the picture.

As a result, more research is needed to determine if it is ageing or especially the menopause that causes MS to worsen in women.

Furthermore, regardless of hormone levels, simply feeling hot might provoke MS symptoms.

Hot flashes (also known as hot flushes) triggered by menopause made some women’s fatigue and bladder problems worsen, according to one survey.

Common Symptoms of Menopause and Multiple Sclerosis

It can be difficult to know if you’re going through menopause or if you’re having an MS flare-up.

The symptoms of the two disorders are very similar.

Symptoms common to both menopause and MS include:

  • fatigue
  • bladder problems
  • lack of interest in sex or trouble getting aroused
  • vaginal dryness
  • trouble concentrating
  • sleep problems
  • mood swings
  • depression

Multiple Sclerosis and the Onset of Menopause

Some studies have looked into whether multiple sclerosis can alter when a woman first starts to experience menopause symptoms.

Women with MS started menopause at the same age as women without the disease.

Women who used a corticosteroid or** interferon beta-1b** to treat their MS entered into menopause a little early in the research.

More research is needed to confirm the impact of MS and its therapies on menopause age, as this was a small study.

Multiple Sclerosis and Postmenopause

During menstrual periods, MS symptoms such as weakness, exhaustion, and depression can worsen.

Menopause can be a relief for some women with MS because of this.

Women had fewer relapses after menopause, according to one small study, even if their condition progressed.

On the other side, up to half of the postmenopausal women polled felt their symptoms worsened.

Furthermore, because patients with MS are more sensitive to heat, hot flashes can exacerbate MS symptoms.

According to one study MS advances more swiftly after menopause.

Even after the scientists took into account characteristics that could hasten MS progression, such as low vitamin D levels and smoking, the results remained the same.

Estrogen and Multiple Sclerosis

The decline in estrogen after menopause may play a role in MS worsening.

Younger women with MS who have their ovaries removed (surgical menopause) find that their disease worsens as a result of the surgery.

Estrogen appears to protect against the symptoms of MS.

Many women’s symptoms improve throughout pregnancy and then return after delivery.

Taking estrogen before and after menopause may help decrease the progression of MS.

Estrogen is a hormone that protects the nervous system.

It lowers inflammation and may protect nerves from the damage that leads to MS symptoms.

Multiple Sclerosis and hormone therapy

Postmenopausal women with MS who used hormone therapy reported higher physical performance than those who did not take hormones, according to a research published in the journal Neurology.

In a phase II study of 164 women with MS, taking estrogen along with the MS treatment glatiramer acetate lowered relapse rates when compared to taking an inert tablet (placebo).

Larger studies are needed to determine whether hormone therapy during menopause is effective in reducing MS symptoms.

Because bone density loss is a problem in women with MS, hormone therapy may also help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Every woman goes through menopause in her own unique way.

Get advice from your doctor if menopause symptoms make your MS worse.

What causes multiple sclerosis?

It’s unknown what causes multiple sclerosis.

It could be an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system mistakenly assaults healthy cells in the body.

Women are more affected by multiple sclerosis than men.

MS does not have a specific test.

To diagnose it, doctors use a

  • medical history,
  • physical exam,
  • neurological exam,
  • MRI, and
  • other testing.

MS has no cure, although medications can help slow it down and regulate symptoms.

Occupational and physical therapy may also be beneficial.

While the disease commonly strikes between the ages of 20 and 40, it can strike at any age.

MS is not inherited in and of itself, but vulnerability to MS may be.

According to studies, some people with MS have one or more family members or relatives who also have the disease.

Almost ten-percent of cases occur before the age of eighteen.

Multiple sclerosis affects about 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide.

mySysters is an app for women in perimenopause and menopause. Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day named mySysters the Best App for Women in Perimenopause and a Must Have App for Women.

The preceding information does not constitute medical advice or treatment.

Sources: Boru UT, et al. (2018). Effects of multiple sclerosis and medications on menopausal age. DOI: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5972265/ Bove R, et al. (2016). Exploration of changes in disability after menopause in a longitudinal multiple sclerosis cohort. DOI: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4824677/ Bove R, et al. (2016). Hormone therapy use and physical quality of life in postmenopausal women with multiple sclerosis. DOI: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075979/ Bove R, et al. (2016). Women’s experiences of menopause in an online MS cohort: A case series. DOI: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031240/#R2 Christianson MS, et al.(2015). Multiple sclerosis at menopause: Potential neuroprotective effects of estrogen [Abstract]. DOI: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25544310 Ladeira F, et al. (2018). The influence of menopause in multiple sclerosis course: A longitudinal cohort study [Abstract]. DOI: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30645993 Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Menopause. Menopause. (2017). mstrust.org.uk/a-z/menopause Menstrual cycle and menopause. (n.d.). nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Diet-Exercise-Healthy-Behaviors/Womens-Health/Menstrual-Cycle-and-Menopause MS symptoms. (n.d.). nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy. (2014). marchofdimes.org/complications/multiple-sclerosis-and-pregnancy.aspx Voskuhl RR, et al. (2016). Estriol combined with glatiramer acetate for women with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: A randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial [Abstract]. DOI: sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442215003221