Daughter in Puberty, Mother in Menopause

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Menopause

I’ve often said that menopause is puberty in reverse. During both stages, the brain experiences the same rapid changes in hormones. The rise in FSH and LH is one of the reasons why so many girls experience the same kinds of mood swings and temperature changes (hot flashes) as women going through menopause! During the several years it takes for regular ovulation to be established, estrogen, unbalanced by progesterone, may also produce the same brain irritability that estrogen dominance does during menopause.

Whether one’s hormones are rising during puberty or falling during menopause, there’s a two- to three-year period of hormonal instability and flux that is actually a biologically supported chance to clean up old unfinished business from the past. Though our culture leads us to believe that a girl’s (or menopausal woman’s) mood swings are simply the result of raging hormones and do not have anything to do with her life, there is solid evidence that significant conflicts (due to relationships, siblings, parents, and so on that a girl feels powerless over or angry about) are actually brought to conscious awareness by these hormonal changes.

Our brains actually begin to change at perimenopause. Like the rising heat in our bodies, our brains also become fired up! Sparked by the hormonal changes that are typical during the menopausal transition, a switch goes on that signals changes in our temporal lobes, the brain region associated with enhanced intuition. How this ultimately affects us depends to a large degree on how willing we are to make the changes in our lives that our hormones are urging us to make.

There is ample scientific evidence of the brain changes that begin to take place at perimenopause. Differences in relative levels of estrogen and progesterone affect the temporal lobe and limbic areas of our brains, and we may find ourselves becoming irritable, anxious, emotionally volatile. Repeated episodes of stress (due to relationship, children, and job situations you feel angry about or powerless over, for example) are actually behind many of the hormonal changes in the brain and body.

This means that if your life situation—whether at work or with children, your husband, your parents, or whatever—doesn’t change, then unresolved emotional stress can exacerbate a perimenopausal hormone imbalance and/or contribute to PMS symptoms. In a normal premenopausal hormonal state it’s much easier to overlook those aspects of your life that don’t really work, just as you can overlook them more easily in the first half of your menstrual cycle—the time when you’re more apt to feel upbeat and happy and able to shove difficult material under the rug. But that doesn’t mean the problems aren’t there. At puberty and at menopause these issues arise so they can be dealt with.

Like perimenopause, puberty is a “grow or die” time. The same longing for completion and fulfillment emerges. Most girls have their first erotic dreams starting at about age ten or eleven when their estrogen levels begin to rise. A girl has a hormonally mediated opportunity to connect with her soul’s purpose, learn to listen to her intuition, and establish a strong sense of herself during the time when both her brain and body are blooming. Within a few short years, when her hormone levels are stable once more, she will have reached a new level of maturity and power. Once she reaches menopause, she’ll be able to look back on the whole process and, once more, upgrade her beliefs and behaviors as she enters another “springtime”—the second half of her life.

Since the changes of perimenopause may precede menopause by as many as ten years, daughters often begin puberty around the same time their mothers begin perimenopause. This provides an enormous opportunity for healing at both ends of the mother-daughter spectrum.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. 
All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Last Updated: April 19, 2011

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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  1. Trish
    2 years ago

    Love the article! I was wondering something. We notice when women are together very often they tend to cycle at the same time. I am going every couple of months and I think this is affecting my daughters cycle. She is not monthly like I was at her age. Will this effect her later on in life?

  2. Stacy
    3 years ago

    Thank you for this article. My young teen and I, luckily, have a great relationship and we have bonded over similar things we are going through emotionally. Our hormones seem to be out of control at the same time! We have resorted to just laughing at ourselves, which seems to be working. However, I have a question on the same topic, but a little off subject. I have noticed that I break out with pimples like a teenager every month when my daughter is menstruating!! I have never had acne issues prior to her beginning puberty and the timing seems to be more than a coincidence. I have tried researching the pheromone affect of one female on another but have found nothing. Have you heard of this happening to other moms before? Any input would be greatly appreciated as there are other changes in myself that I have noticed but feel awkward sharing publicly. Thanks again!!

    1. Leslie
      2 years ago

      http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/jlustick/pheromones-and-female-leadership

      Maybe? I’m curious about this as well…. finding things a bit crazy in my own house with two pubescent daughters…

    2. Wyndi Fosh
      2 years ago

      I am going through same thing! More zits, more discharge…everything she is experiencing, I am too! I already did this once! I don’t want to do it again! LOL

    3. Danielle
      1 year ago

      I have found the same as Stacy (above). Not in menopause. Instead, I am breastfeeding and have had no menstrual cycle because of this. During this time, my daughter started getting her period. I still cycle with her. I get mittelschmerz when she ovulates and can’t stay out of the bathroom right before her period sets in (something that usually happens to me with my own). Same mood swings, breakouts for me in the last week of her cycle and so forth. But when using ovulation tests, I am not ovulating. My milk supply even drops for a day the day she starts bleeding (something that typically happens to breastfeeding women when they themselves get a period). Fascinating stuff that leads me to believe even more that conditions like PMDD (which I have had in the past) are more likely reactions to other’s hormones and pheromones – not just our own.

    4. Liz Kollman
      6 months ago

      My daughter is soon going to start her period. I’ve gone through menopause, and suddenly I feel like I’m going to get a period! I haven’t had these symptoms in 2 plus years!!

  3. Lisa Broderick Cohen
    4 years ago

    Thank you for this delightful read! I’ve been in perimenopause for a couple of years, and my daughter is just starting puberty. We are actually very bonded by experiencing our changes together. I am usually so focused on helping her navigate her waters that I forget about myself. Most of my peri symptoms have been fine but I experience really severe cramps during my period. My daughter has not had hers yet and is afraid of what she sees me go through. This article helps put things in perspective a bit. Thank you.

  4. Irina
    7 years ago

    Thank you so much, the knowledge that gives you inner peace is priceless.
    Irina from Australia

  5. Angela vallejo ca
    8 years ago

    Thank you so much for your help with my changes that life is bringing to me

  6. Jan
    8 years ago

    I loved your “Women’s Wisdom” affirmation today. “Women’s Wisdom” so aptly names your words. If we could just get men to think like women and get their priorities straight, then maybe we could have peace on this earth. Their idea of proving they are men is to kill versus our idea of proving they are men is to protect. Thank you for sharing.

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