When women get to a certain age, their bodies start to change. As their reproductive hormones begin to decline, it is common for women to experience hot flashes, mood changes and disturbances in their sleep. Research also suggests that hearing loss should be added to this list.
Undergoing hormone therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause is a complex decision many women have to face. There are a number of studies that have examined the relationship between hormone therapies and hearing loss with mixed results.
A 2004 study looked at data from 109 postmenopausal women. Twenty women were undergoing estrogen therapy, 30 women were using hormone therapy and 59 women were not receiving any therapy at all. All women completed a hearing exam. The results indicated that estrogen therapy may slow down the development of age-related hearing loss in postmenopausal women, although the researchers admitted that further testing is needed to make any definitive conclusions.
A larger study published in 2017 examined data from more than 47,000 women over a 22-year period. The study concluded that a course of hormone therapy for five to 10 years may increase a women’s risk of developing hearing loss by 15% compared to women who do not take any hormone therapy. The researchers also found that the risk of developing hearing loss increased the longer women were on hormone therapy.
Hormones and Hearing Loss
Having an urge to jump into the Caloosahatchee River to cool off, otherwise known as hot flashes, occur when women experience a drop in estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that plays an important role throughout your body. In addition to managing your reproductive system, there are estrogen receptors in the ear cells and auditory pathways. Some experts believe this is why there is an increase in hearing loss in postmenopausal women.
Progesterone, another reproductive hormone, begins to decrease in a woman’s 30s. This hormone is responsible for regulating pregnancy. And while it does not directly affect the cochlea, it can reduce the estrogen receptor cells, thus decreasing the flow of blood to the ears.
While research is unclear about the connection between menopause and hearing loss, getting regular hearing checks as you age can help catch hearing loss early. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Gulf Coast Audiology today.