Women are different
Women with Parkinson’s disease are not “little men” with Parkinson’s disease. We are different in many ways, but treatment plans do not always address some important differences, including hormones. Hormonal fluctuations that women have during pregnancy, menstruation and menopause, for example, can present specific challenges for those who have Parkinson’s disease. This includes the possibility of a delayed Parkinson’s diagnosis, because some symptoms may overlap with the symptoms of menopause.
Review article published in 2019. In Journal of Parkinson’s Disease she noted that, “Although women diagnosed with PD are a significant part of the population with PD, their specific needs are still partially neglected.”
The authors noted that men and women experience the disease differently, although more research is needed to understand why.
“Accordingly,” they wrote, “government and private initiatives strongly encourage scientists and clinicians to specifically consider gender characterization and gender-specific issues in PD.”
Parkinson’s disease and menopause
The challenge is to navigate the emotional and physical rebellion of menopause, while managing Parkinson’s symptoms. Studies have investigated the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy in women with Parkinson’s disease, but research is limited.
For me, sleep, diet and exercise are essential. Finding the right doctor to help me move through this transitional phase. I am learning to balance the management of my life and my illness. They are not mutually exclusive, but are intricately intertwined.
It can be difficult to determine if my symptoms are due to menopause or Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes I feel like Parkinson is sneaking up on me while I’m driving at menopause. Or is it the other way around? Maybe my hormones are reducing the effectiveness of my medications.
There are lights at the end of one tunnel: Although my Parkinson’s symptoms won’t go away, menopausal symptoms should improve over time.
For now, there are more questions than answers, but I will continue to learn and participate in the research. Awareness of how Parkinson’s disease affects women is growing, and research is pointing in the right direction.
I am grateful to those who have pioneered initiatives such as Women and PD Talk, who advocate for women with Parkinson’s disease and provide a valuable resource on gender differences.
Since April is Parkinson’s Month of Awareness, I want all female Parkinson’s warriors to remember that you are brave and unique. And to the people with Parkinson’s disease who are fighting alongside us, a sincere thank you.
Note: Parkinson’s news today is strictly a website with news and information about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional regarding any health-related issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it for something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not opinions Parkinson’s news today or its parent company, BioNews, whose purpose is to stimulate discussion on issues related to Parkinson’s disease.