Feeling irritable?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2009 in Uncategorized | 5 comments


You’re not alone. Data from a National Consumers League survey suggest that as many as 40% to 60% of menopausal women feel irritable or moody (depending on the severity of their symptoms). Consequently, it’s not surprising that results of a recent study that appeared in the March issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics suggest a medical reason for irritability during menopause as well: fluctuating hormones.

Researchers evaluated irritability and depression, vasomotor symptoms and insomnia in 163 peri- and post-menopausal women attending a clinic. Participants had either never used hormones or were taking Livial. Irritability was defined as either outwardly directed (towards another person) or inwardly directed (towards oneself). They also examined the presence of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or thyroid disease.

The results? According to study findings, outward but not inward irritability was significantly associated with follicle stimulating (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels (which are markers of aging ovaries).

Women with chronic disease (about a third of those participating) tended to have significantly higher irritability scores, which the researchers attributed at least partially, to aging (and its association with illness) and not to menopause specifically. Like their healthier peers, outward irritability was found to be related to FSH and LH levels.

No association was found between irritability and vasomotor symptoms or insomnia.

So, there appears to be a medical reason for being outwardly irritable during menopause, one that has more to do with hormone levels and less, with hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia. If you aren’t willing to get on the HRT train, you might want to look into some alternatives, such as progesterone cream or soy. Self-deprecation, on the other hand, requires a bit more finesse and self-awareness to get the bottom of what ails.

Regardless of how you choose to address your irritability, a general rule of thumb applies: put down the knife and breathe!


  1. 6-14-2009

    Pardon my post-flash male ignorance, but this seems like the most obvious thing in the world. Didn’t everybody already know that it was hormones? Or is it just that someone finally identified specifically what hormone?

    • 6-14-2009

      Dave – as intuitive as it may seems, there are a lot of overlaps between menopause, hormones and aging that researchers are just starting to discern. In this particular study, only outward irritability was linked to FSH and LH – but not inward. So can one then assume that it’s due to aging or life or lack of sleep? By continuing to report findings such as these, we can only hope to take some of the burden of fluctuating hormones away and replace it with understanding. Thanks for reading.

      • 6-14-2009

        Well, isn’t that interesting! I learned something new today. Thanks. (Glad I spoke up and revealed my naivete.)

      • 6-15-2009

        I am glad that you spoke up also. One of the most important things about this blog and its subject matter is dialogue. Thank you!

  2. 4-9-2012

    To what extent might a study of P.M.T with it’s hormonal links be usefully included here. Women I have encountered that suffered from severe P.M.T. were, in my opinion, more dangerously affected than those suffering the menopause.The menopause seems to induce irritability, tearfulness and mood swings where-as, for badly affected women, P.M.T could well be a precursor to murder. I have been on the receiving of this condition so I speak with experience, one of the biggest problems was getting the sufferer to recognise a there was a problem .


  1. The Roundup: June’s News and Tidbits « Flashfree - [...] Feeling irritable? – Researchers finally pinpoint the exact hormones responsible for irritability towards others during menopause. [...]

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