There you are, minding your business. Maybe you’re wrapping up a report at work or doing laps around the supermarket trying to find the coconut milk (seriously, can’t they just standardize the aisles already?). You feel flushed and the room starts to do a waltz around you.
You may have seen hot flashes coming when perimenopause started. You might even have heard about their super-fun cousin, vaginal dryness. But the first time you experience a bout of dizziness, it can be unexpected and, well, disorienting.
For Kiki Lopez, it set in slowly. So slowly that she can’t even remember the first time she experienced what she calls “that circular feeling.” Over the course of a year, it became a weekly occurrence. Then the first bout of vertigo hit. She was already dealing with hot flashes and sleeplessness as a result of menopause. Could this new symptom be linked too, she wondered.
When she landed in urgent care after a particularly rough spell, she asked the provider if it could be menopause-related. He shut her down with a prompt “no” (also rude!) and moved along. Kiki wasn’t convinced.
“I was thinking there’s something seriously wrong with me and I had no idea what it was,” she said. “I started reading more. I realized I’m not the only woman going through this. Why isn’t anyone talking about it?”
Why Does Dizziness Occur During Menopause?
Dizziness, wooziness, lightheadedness, vertigo. The feeling goes by many terms, most of them maddeningly imprecise. And because dizziness can be caused by so many different conditions, doctors often don’t tie it to menopause, leaving many women at a loss for what is wrong.
If that’s you, the first thing you should know is you’re not alone. Dizziness during menopause is normal. In fact, in a 2018 study of peri- and post-menopausal women in Japan, more than 35% reported feeling dizzy at least once a week. That’s a lot of time to spend waiting for the room to stop spinning.
While studies have shown a link between dizziness and menopause - including other common symptoms like hot flashes, occasional sleeplessness and anxiety - the underlying mechanism still isn’t fully understood, which makes treatment difficult. Some studies suggest it’s caused by our flighty little friends: hormones, specifically estrogen. There may also be a link to the normal aging process, which can affect the inner ear’s ability to regulate our sense of equilibrium.
What To Do About Dizziness During Menopause
So what’s a smart, busy woman who can’t lock herself in a darkened room all day to do?
If you’re experiencing regular dizziness, the first thing you should do is see your doctor. Try recording when and where you’ve experienced it in a journal you can bring to the visit with you. Be sure to mention other menopause symptoms you may be experiencing.
There are also a few lifestyle changes experts recommend.
- Drink water. Being dehydrated can increase stress on your body, leaving it less prepared to handle bouts of dizziness.
- Eat regular meals. Skipping a meal can leave you under-fueled and more susceptible to a case of the spins.
- Get plenty of rest. Your body becomes stressed when you don’t get enough sleep, and a stressed body is less able to fight off other ailments.
Kiki found that over-the-counter motion sickness tablets helped her fend off the spins. She uses them in combination with a homeopathic sleep aid to manage her full set of symptoms. She also recommends talking to other women as a way to cope. It may not stop the room from spinning, but it can help you feel like you’re not going crazy.
“Get the conversation started so you don’t feel isolated,” she says. “Share your story.”