Updated: 2019, Feb 7

Menopause and Irritability: Symptoms, Causes, Risk factors, Treatments & More

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Menopause and Irritability

One of the most frequently mentioned symptoms of menopause is irritability. This condition affects approximately half of all women, and can also include accompanying mood swings, other emotional disturbances and difficulty sleeping. While irritability is considered to be a normal response to the menopause process, it is nonetheless, difficult at times to endure. Understanding the causes of this symptom, and different alternatives for alleviating and managing its effects can be helpful for women during this time.

Understanding Irritability

During menopause, irritability is usually increased and stresses of daily life seem more aggravating than they were previously. It becomes more difficult to stay on top of this symptom, which may be frustrating, leading to a cyclical repetition of cause and effect. Women may find themselves overreacting to situations due to the increase in negative emotions. This is largely due to the hormonal changes taking place in the systems of the body, creating an imbalance. Understanding that this is a natural part of the process of menopause is important, and just as vital is not assigning personal blame for emotional responses to a biological fact of life.

Symptoms of Irritability

Many menopausal women have difficulty sleeping. Night sweats and hot flashes can bring about anxiety, increases in stress, edginess, and negative emotions. It is common for women to lash out at others because being tired, stressed, physically and emotionally out of balance brings them past the brink of their tolerance levels. Snapping at others and being unable to emotionally cope are also symptoms of irritability.

What Causes Irritability in Menopause?

From the onset of menopause until its completion, the female body is undergoing a transitional period. The body’s systems and chemistry are out of balance from what they have become accustomed to. The various symptoms of menopause are caused by these changes. Primarily, the cessation of estrogen and secondarily, progesterone, bring about the changes that simply do not feel right. As the body adjusts physically to these changes, the emotional impact can be severe for some. Coping with the intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of menopausal transition can create conflict and discomforts that result in feelings of irritability.

Factors Resulting in Irritation

Menopause is referred to as the change of life because it signals the closing of the woman’s ability to bear children. While some look forward to this phase, others feel a sense of loss, and go through a grieving process. Depression, sadness, anger and physically uncomfortable symptoms can lead to irritability. The jittery nervous feeling that hormonal imbalances can cause, coupled with sleep deprivation and anxiety over when the next hot flash will occur, are plenty of factors that can lead to irritation.

Treatment for Menopausal Irritability

Several treatment options are available for menopausal irritability. For those who prefer the safest and most natural therapies, beginning with adjustments to lifestyle is a good place to start. Eliminating elements that can trigger the irritation response by avoiding or cutting back on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine is highly recommended. Additionally, eating a healthy, balanced diet, remaining well hydrated, and getting healthy exercise will help keep the body systems running better.

Alternative Medicine

Alternative medicine offers treatments which are natural and healthy. Supplements and herbal remedies including Black cohosh, wild yam, and soy products are useful in easing many of the symptoms of menopause. These natural treatments include ingredients that are high in phytoestrogens which act like estrogen in the body. This helps to regulate the body’s chemistry, alleviating the symptoms of menopause, and lessening irritability.

Those who prefer, may opt to visit their health providers for assistance. Hormone replacement therapy is the most commonly recommended treatment from modern medicine. This option should be considered as a last resort as it carries with it higher risk factors for developing dangerous side effects. In addition to this, professional counseling may be used to learn how to cope with the grieving process and emotional turbulence that some women experience when going through menopause.


Women who are experiencing an increase in irritability during menopause can rest assured that this symptom is a normal reaction to a change in their body’s chemistry. Although this symptom may remain mild for some women, others may have severe episodes that require treatment. Understanding that bringing the body’s hormonal levels back into balance usually alleviates much of the discomfort leaves the task of selecting the best treatment option for the individual.

Simple changes in lifestyle such as avoidance of triggers, adhering to a healthy diet, getting plenty of fluids, rest and exercise can make a noticeable difference for many. For others, the addition of phytoestrogen rich foods and herbal supplements can give the body that added boost of estrogen like compounds. In the event that you’re still in moderate discomfort, counseling may provide greater relief. Lastly, medical options such as hormone replacement therapy, although more risky to your overall health, have a high rate of success in effectively treating the symptoms of menopause.

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