Stress, Peri/Menopause & Wonder Woman

Fiona Catchpowle

18 January 2021

What do stress, peri-menopause, menopause and beyond have in common with Wonder Woman? 

This is not a knock-knock joke, but basically we are all naturally ‘Wonder Women’ and I don’t need a fancy costume to tell me that, although if I had legs that great I’d probably wear one every day.

The connection is, that we are all experiencing prolonged levels of anxiety, which translates to chronic stress.  Higher than normal cortisol levels over extended periods of time could be making your (peri)menopausal symptoms worse, and even create ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment.

If your perimenopause or menopause symptoms are off the scale then you are probably finding there are times that you really need to stop and listen to your body. We all over do it, it is part of being a modern woman in a real world. However, it doesn’t make it the right thing to do, particularly when we consider the fall out of trying to be a wonder woman.

Hormonal decline over age

This is happening in the background on top of your stress!

Stress, worry and anxiety are strongly linked to fluctuations in levels of inflammatory markers, which can compromise the immune system and how the body responds to certain situations. Inflammation is partly caused by cytokines, chemicals that are released by stress. So if you’re stressed you’ll release more of these chemicals, increasing the amount of inflammation in your body.
Inflammation basically creates wear and tear on the body that has the potential to impact your physical & mental health.

Stress can be good for us as it triggers our adaptive energy needs when we need it. But when worry, anxiety and stress become chronic and mismanaged, it is a detriment to our health and well-being. We become less sensitive to our stress hormones and eventually it impairs the immune system, which is designed to repair us after stress has gone. If the real or perceived stress doesn’t go away then the immune system is in on a constant treadmill of repair. Researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response.

“Even ‘Wonder Woman’ needs a day off every now and then!”

How does stress manifest in a peri/menopausal body?

Our head explodes! … kind of … or we may just suddenly notice or feel an increase in the severity of our (peri)menopausal symptoms. If our body is already on overload dealing with environmental or internal stress, once you throw in non-optional declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone, who are good mates with cortisol, it’s like your best players in the netball team are having the day off.
As you will know if you’ve watched the Perimenopause Basics course in The Menopause School, hormonal decline is happening with or without you. Decline of your reproductive hormone levels from your ovary output is not one of your controllable co-factors. However,  what you put in on and around your body is.

NB. If you are menstruating regularly you will respond differently to when you are having irregular periods, and declining levels at the same time. It’s like a ski slope with loads of moguls – essentially you are going down the mountain but sometimes you will be going upwards.

Stress reduction and relaxation good habits to lower cortisol levels and allow your other hormones to function effectively are a certain way to minimize inflammation and the resulting physical and mental impact. Breath and stay still as often as possible.

Need a hand with your (peri)menopause?

If you’re looking for answers try The Menopause School

Online, jargon-free, self-study courses. Develop a deeper understanding of your hormone highway in a mindful, stress-free way. Identify what purposeful steps to take next.