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Lowers sex hormone levels linked to traumatic experiences

Traumatic experiences are associated with lower levels of sex hormones in midlife women, especially those with short sleep, according to research presented at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting.

While it is known that traumatic experiences can affect both mental and physical health, these experiences may also be linked to lower levels of sex hormones in midlife women, especially in those with shorter sleep, according to research presented at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting.

In previous research, psychological trauma was shown to lead to potential suppression of ovarian function and reduce ovarian estrogen secretion. Despite this, it is still unknown the link between sex hormones and traumatic experiences in midlife women.

In the study presented at NAMS, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh evaluated 260 postmenopausal women to determine whether traumatic experiences are linked with levels of estrogens (estradiol, estrone) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and if this association is affected by sleep duration.

Results of the study found that women who had a history of trauma also had lower levels of estrogens, such as estradiol and estrone, vs women without trauma. Additionally, researchers found there was no link between trauma and FSH levels.

The results also found the relationship between hormones and sleep relied on how much women slept, with women who slept for less than 6 hours per night and have a history of trauma also had low levels of estrogens.

"This work highlights the importance of trauma in relation to health at midlife, particularly given the sensitivity of women's health to hormones," said Mary Carson, MS, clinical and bio-health psychology PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, and lead author of the study.

Depressive or posttraumatic stress symptoms, how long a woman had been postmenopausal, or vasomotor symptoms were not reported in the results.

"This study demonstrates the need for health care professionals to have a good understanding of a patient's history, including any traumatic experiences. This history could help identify women at increased risk for certain health issues and allow for the adoption of preventive strategies," said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, NAMS medical director.

Reference:

Carson M. Traumatic Experiences May be Associated With Lower Levels of Sex Hormones. Presented at: North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting. October 12-15, Atlanta, Georgia.