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The following is a transcript from Episode 49 of The Adulting With ADHD Podcast.
This is part three of a three part series on estrogen and ADHD and this section is on perimenopause and menopause. What’s happening in perimenopause is estrogen deficits are gradually beginning to decrease and preparation for menopause. This can start anywhere from the mid 30s to 40s.
Signs of Perimenopause
Some of those signs, according to the Mayo Clinic include irregular periods, hot flashes, sleep problems, mood changes, vaginal and bladder problems, decreased fertility, changes in sexual function, loss of bone and changing cholesterol levels. I don’t have a lot of personal experience with perimenopause or menopause because I’m not there yet. I know it’s coming. And it’s really helpful for me to kind of see what what’s ahead because much like that crazy few days right before your period starts when your estrogen dips really low, and you don’t even think your stimulant medications, working that whole thing to me. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, ladies who are going through this to me, it sounds like it’s that little thing, but like prolonged Am I right? Am I right about that? Tell me, let me know.
‘The Meds Stop Working’
So yeah, they’ve done studies on payment, pause and cognition. I have an excerpt here. I’m going to read from a study and it was published in the National Review of Endocrinology in 2015. And here’s what it says it says, although primarily viewed as a reproductive transition, the symptoms of paramount a pause are largely neurological in nature. neurological symptoms that emerged during perimenopause are indicative of disruption and multiple estrogen regulated symptoms, including thermoregulation sleep circadian rhythms and sensory processing and affect multiple domains of cognitive function. So we’re talking multiple fronts here a cognitive function, starting in your mid 30s, to 40s. The meds stop working.
Dr. Patricia Quinn, who is the expert on hormones impact on ADHD women says, I often hear from women who report that as they enter perimenopause, and the flashes begin, they have more problems with their ADHD symptoms, or other stimulant medication does not seem to be working as well as it did previously. So this is a real thing. This is something to keep on your radar, because I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t know about the whole period thing. And I wish I would have known about it. And so I feel like the best way we can help ourselves is to stay as informed as possible. And one of the ways we can do that is by tracking our symptoms and tracking our menstrual cycles now, so that when things start going off the rails, we can already kind of get an idea of what’s going on. I’ve mentioned previously Dr. Quinn’s YouTube video where she shares how she tells her patients to track their symptoms and track, she basically says, pick five symptoms and track them over five months.
ADHD and Hormones: Setting Expectations
And the video explains more about how she she instructs her patients to do this, like I also mentioned before, always communicate with both your psychiatrist and your ob gyn come up with a treatment plan that both providers can get behind as Sari Solden said, and a video that I referenced, in part one of the series manage your expectations, I had it and she’s referencing that little crazy part before your period. But I would, I would say it applies here too, as well. And it’s just knowing, hey, this is going to be happening at this point. And these, I’m going to be impacted in this way. And here’s, you know, I’m gonna have to take it easier on myself or I’m gonna have to, you know, just kind of mentally prepare for that, so that you’re not holding yourself to the same standard as when your estrogen was higher, you want to show yourself some compassion and I would say it’s logistics like you have a finite amount of cognitive load.
For lack of a better term, you have a budget, right? A brain budget, let’s just say a brain budget, you know, you’re gonna have a lot less of that and you’re gonna have problems with impulsivity and working memory more so than you you may already have and it’s not a foregone conclusion.
It’s just something that is common in ADHD women and there are treatments and that’s that’s what that’s that’s why you go talk to both your OBG and your psychiatrist because there are things Patricia Quinn talks about different things you can do. There’s there’s hormone therapies, there’s increasing your stimulant medication. There’s also introducing or adjusting or SSRIs there’s all these things but they all require medical experts helping you don’t do. Don’t try and do this at home on your own like, go go see, go see your trusted medical professionals to do this.
And then lastly, consider working with an ADHD coach if you’re just completely overwhelmed, maybe at work, maybe at home, and you just need help wrapping your head around how to do all the things and you need help with a strategy or you just need help you don’t know what you need help with. It isn’t any help consider working with an ADHD coach who can kind of help you grab and get a handle on what’s going on that could be helpful to you.
Menopause & ADHD
So next is wanted to talk about menopause. At this point, your estrogen dramatically drops ADHD symptoms tend to be exasperated at this point. Some of the symptoms of menopause include irregular periods, badgal, dryness, hot flashes, chills, night sweats, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain and slow metabolism, thinning hair and dry skin and loss of breast fullness. And this is from the Mayo Clinic. He got that going on. And according to Terri Matlin, she’s a therapist. You’ve probably heard of her. She specializes in ADHD women. She wrote in an article that appeared in attitude magazine that women struggle with memory, word retrieval and other cognitive activities. In fact, for some, the change in their cognitive function is so traumatic, that something they’re developing dementia or Alzheimer’s, lower levels of estrogen may cause mood disorders. And I think this is totally a real thing. Because before I was even diagnosed with ADHD, I actually thought I might have all simers like, that’s how pronounced that was. And so if you start having moments like that, when you’re older, and you’re and you’re thinking, Well, I’m getting older, that’s probably what it is. Not necessarily, it might be your estrogen levels going down, might be something you can work on. And the same advice that would give for perimenopausal women with ADHD is tracking your symptoms like the doctor Dr. Quinn’s video in the description communicating with your psychiatrist and OBG and coming up with a treatment plan. And then the stutzeri solden talked about managing expectations having compassion and planning ahead for when you’re not going to be 100% or you know, plan for the new hundred percent like plan for this is going to be the new normal. Let’s, let’s make some adaptations maybe, and then working with an ADHD coach.
Those are my tips for perimenopausal and menopausal women with ADHD. I do not fall into this category yet. And so please, you know, ping me if you’ve got any great tips you want me to share with everyone else and I do have some further reading here. You could read any articles by Patricia Quinn and sarisolden.com is where you can find Sari’s stuff. Addiva.com is a website targeting women in this age range of perimenopause/menopause, addconsults.com is Terry Matlen’s website. And then there’s also ADHD Rollercoaster and that one is more focused on relationships, but it may may be helpful for you, and then just blogs for women in general. Well, there’s mine adultingwithadhd.com, and then there’s A Dose of Healthy Distraction by Liz Lewis, Black Girl Lost Keys by Rene Brooks, and The ADHD Homestead by Jacqueline Paul. And then there’s also the Kaleidoscope Society and I noticed they just recently launched a podcast as well. So those are some other resources if you’re looking for help for women with ADHD, and I hope this series was helpful to you guys, I felt like there was something I couldn’t find all in one place. So I thought maybe I should make it sorted. So hopefully it helps everyone.