Menopause is caused by a gradual fall in a woman's hormone levels, leading to a cessation of periods, while in PCOS periods may be disrupted and excessive androgens and insulin are produced.
PCOS symptoms may continue during and after menopause, which happens at an average age of 51. So when women go through menopause, they may still experience symptoms of PCOS and the menopause. However, women with PCOS tend to go through menopause 2 years later than women without the condition.
Women with PCOS produce a higher level of the male sex hormone testosterone than most women do. The increase also affects the way insulin works, affecting the ability to control blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, the reduction in hormones that happens in the lead up to menopause does not redress the imbalance of hormones that causes PCOS; so menopause does not cure PCOS.
Some symptoms of perimenopause (the time leading up to the menopause) are similar to symptoms of PCOS. So if a woman starts experiencing symptoms of PCOS in her 40s or 50s, when she may also be experiencing perimenopause, it can be hard to tell the two apart. These symptoms include irregular or missed periods, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, thinning hair on the head and weight gain. However symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats do not occur in PCOS only but can occur with PCOS symptoms at the time of the menopause.
Research has been conducted into how the hormone levels of women with PCOS change, as they get older. It seems that over time, testosterone levels in women with PCOS decrease gradually but not to normal levels until 20 years after menopause. This reduction does help to reduce the severity of PCOS symptoms with age.
There are several ways that women can help manage the shared symptoms of perimenopause and PCOS. These include managing weight, regular exercise and a healthy diet
See the following for further help:
PCOS book (Dummies guide):
Menopause kindle book