Does Brain Injury Cause Early Onset Menopause?

Question: 

I am forty-four and was involved in a car crash three years ago. I was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma. After the accident I did not have a period. Since then I have had my period every month, at the correct time and as normal. However, for the last two months I have not had one. I went to a GYN and he looked at the hormone levels taken by my general practitioner. He said my hormones would not be interrupted by any brain injury and that my symptoms were simply those of menopause. This may be so, but my family history is not one of early menopause. Is there any advice you could provide?

Answer: 

Recent research indicates there is higher incidence of hormone abnormalities in people who have sustained a brain injury. This is related to injury to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and all the hormones they produce or stimulate to produce, including thyroid hormone, growth hormone, cortisol, and the sex hormones (FSH, LH, Prolactin, estrogen, and testosterone). It is more common to see these abnormalities early on after a brain injury but they can come on as a long-term consequence. Medications and other medical illnesses need to be eliminated as the cause of the hormone abnormality.

Although there may not be anything to be done if you’ve already gone into menopause, it would be worth having your doctor check to make sure no other hormone levels are low. This can be done with a standard blood test.

 

Posted on BrainLine July 11, 2011.

Comments (15)

In 1993, when I was 41, I sustained a very bad traumatic brain injury. It was at first believed to be 'mild,' - but I developed bleeding and swelling all over my brain.

I slept for most of four years. My period had always been regular.

However, after the TBI, I hemorrhaged for years.

This was a good way for my brain to rid itself of the bleeding and swelling that was endangering my life.

This was at a time when doctors didn't think that a 'fall' in a retail store could cause an injury as severe as a car accident.

As I say, this was some time ago - in the 90s.

hen I say 'hemorrhaged,' I mean really hemorrhaged. I had to stay near the bathroom and use two tampons and two super pads every couple of hours, plus several pairs of underwear and some toilet paper.

After about 4 years of this, the hemorrhaging blood stopped, and - miraculously - the MRIs revealed that the swelling in my brain had gone down. My massive head pain stopped.

Mother Nature always knows how to make things work - one way or another.

My vision is quite a bit worse, but strong bi-focals mean I can work (I am a copy editor) and drive, and live a regular life.

My balance is still off - I cannot ride a bicycle, dance, ski or skate, but I am alive.

I can swim.

So I had been having menopausal symptoms, regular hot flashes in the day and night sweats for 3 months or so. I fell off a horse two weeks ago on the top of my head, I lost 1/2 hour of memory and haven’t had a hot flush since - is it possible that a blow to the head is a not to be recommended ‘cure’ for the menopause?

I did not have a period for ten year following a severe traumatic brain injury. After my periods began again I was extremely fertile and would have had no problem, I am pretty sure, having a child if i had wanted. I was initially injured at 20 years old and was already not experiencing monthly periods i think due to my lean body mass and athletic lifestyle.

I was very relieved to see this question and all these very helpful comments. I was in a car accident in 2008. I've sustained a major whiplash injury, and suffered from post concussive syndrome for well over a year after the accident. Since then, I have done my best to deal with the missed periods, erratic periods, major PMS and increase in my hypothyroid symptoms. I have dealt with the full spectrum of menopausal symptoms for the past 5 years, the last 2-3 years being the worst. I am now about to turn 40 and only getting my period about every 60 days. Even though my doctor told me three years ago, when I asked about my missed periods and others menopausal symptoms that it was not possible because I was too young, I am sure she was very wrong! At this rate menopause isn't too far into my future. I always wondered if the messed up hormones had something to do with the accident and my head injury and now I am sure that the head injury had something to do with it. Thanks everyone for your comments, they have been so helpful to me :)

I am very happy to know that others have experienced similar things to me after a head injury. Had a bad fall in 2014 on my right side hitting concrete, deep cut and no damage to the brain. Felt odd for well over a year and "foggy" memory loss huge (lists were fantastic!), went to doctor and she explained it probably was a combination of the head injury and menopause and not to worry. Periods stopped the month of the accident and no periods for 2 years, hooray!! - until last week ( December 2016!) I got all the usual warnings of a period and had a heavy one too. So yes, I truly believe now that it was the head injury that upset my hormone balance. Especially now after reading your stories, thank you for posting these.

I am relieved to find this information and feel less alone. Two and a half months ago I was hit by a "distracted driver" and got quite the concussion, staples in the skull, whiplash, and must have done a serious face plant on the sidewalk at the very end  etc.. I am 55, but at 47 I'd already gone through early menopause because of former autoimmune problems which I finally got rid of by eliminating wheat/corn/soy.  I hadn't had hot flashes for probably a year or so until the head injury and then suddenly was having immense hot flashes, waking in the night with my pillowcase damp, and several times in the day feeling overwhelmed with hot flashes.  My acupuncturist is doing cranial sacral work on my skull and actually gently sort of pulling my nose back out etc.   I am now better, fewer hot flashes, but mood is still weepy way to easily, and, to my horror, I swear (so far not at a person but at things I've dropped, etc.)  I guess you could say I am more irritable and anxious. I am working on these things, they've improved, but are still happening 2 and half months since the accident.  I am grateful that I am aware enough to realize these things are normal after a knock on the head, and I don't have to attribute the "feeling" being stirred up to any person place or thing, but to just the brain going through the process of healing. But it isn't very nice, is it.   Am going to try herbs to help me through some of these weepy scaredy cat feelings until I am more myself -naturally optimistic and cheerful.

Hi Linda and sorry for your problems, they seem so similar. I was knocked down when I was 42 and having my period. I did not have a further period for 10 months and then they came back as usual at the right time and for the right duration and volume.  They continued for a further year until I fell (due to nerve damage in my leg from the accident), and sustained a further brain injury.  They stopped once again for 10 months and then came back again, as they should have been, until I fell again & sustained a further brain injury.  It is now about 16 months since I last had a period & I am now 47.  So of course I must be menopausal and get over it.  I tired of all things being blamed on me being menopausal.  I really do want to have a child and this is the biggest regret I have about my accident.  My family history is that we dont get menopausal until we mid 50s, my middle sister is 52, oldest 55 and they are both still having their periods.  I think my granny had her last child at 48.  I live in N Ireland and endro seems to be in its youth (someone has to have it).  Can anyone help (apart from the Samaratians?) Hope anyone going thr similar gets to terms with it & can manage a good nights sleep (I have to wake up to eat sugar) & remember basic things like their bank code!!!

I went into menopause at 44 due to TBI. (Women in my family don't start menopause until their 60s). Unfortunately, most drs don't know that 40% of TBI patients develop endocrine disorders such as early menopause, insulin-dependent diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis. Since many endocrine & TBI symptoms overlap, you should see an endocrinologist.

I do believe the early onset of perimonopause cam ne brought on by a slew of promblems. I was in a whip lash accident in 09. That was just the beginning of my problems! It did throw me in to menopause with a lot of horrible side affects, I have one period a year for 3 years. Iv'e devedloped red palms and fingertips tthat are numb all the time. I have at least 15 hotflashes a day accompanied ny hives (urticaria) it's just horrible. My entire sympathetic nervous system has been compromised. My histamine levels are sky high, I break out in hives when I bump my arm on the wall. I get tightness that starts on the left side of my tongue, then mt throat gets very tight, from there is get these srtange brain spells with visual changes. Cognatively, things change, I get very irritable and andgry and i'm always forgetting what I set out to do. I often have to search to find the right words and I'm easily irritaited. I have bouts of weight loss when my adrenal glands are acting up and causing me pain, usually at night time. I have started to atrophy on my middle traps and my last bone scan showed bone loss at 35!!! I wish I new what all of this was and weather it was caused from my accident in 09.
Yes I'm sure it is due to head trauma as I had a fall and was knocked out and then the next day went into having hot flashes and haven't had a period. This would be due to damage of the hypothalamus and pituitary.
I have no family history of early onset menopause in my family. When I was 36, I was in a car accident and sustained a concussion. A year later, I was diagnosed with perimenopause, and then by 41 I was menopausal. The ER physician and neurologist that treated dismissed it as a \"mild\" concussion. No medical professionals will attribute my early onset menopause to the brain injury that I received from that accident, but I sincerely believe that it was the cause. I have had problems with dental, hair loss, metabolism, attention and concentration, energy level, sleep disturbance, hot flashes, etc. ever since the accident.
My support group for brain trauma had all gone through menopause. I already had family but some were younger. It was hard for them,
I had aTbi back In 1998 & anEver a Had another monthly. Neither did the women in my support group. Now imsuffer short term memory LOSS bad like the movie 50 first dates , have had two more injuries because It does happen again. I manage to work, published three no els since them and a new book this year, INDIOS, but need friends and someone who's undenstanding. It is lonely here and for first time I am imagining I am in a didfferent life, the past one. Anyone else? Linda
it has been a year now since i was attacked. I had severe brain injury and was hospitalized for a month two weeks ago marked the year and all of a sudden i started getting hot flashes and havnt had my period for 2 months. Im 44 years old talked to doctor and he said it was premature menopause. Was it because of the brain injury i got it so early? My mother also finished her period at the age of 33 so i dont know if its heretitary or it was cause of my brain injury. My nite sweats are so bad everything in my bed is soaked. Anyone have any answers for me.
I had several concussions in a 3-week period early in my military career. The 1st caused a severe TBI. I was left with severe Cervicogenic Headaches, have cervical vertebrae damage that also continues to deteriorate 25 yrs since. At 35, my periods suddenly stopped. No doctor/specialist could determine why this happened. Now I wonder if it was a result of all the head trauma and subsequent problems? Capt. AMZ, ret'd