The intersection of menopause and neurodivergent conditions

Menopause, a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years, is characterised by a range of physiological and psychological changes. 


These changes are not only confined to reproductive health but also intersect significantly with various aspects of mental and neurological health. An interesting and increasingly researched area in this domain is the interaction between menopause and neurodivergent conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Menopause does not cause mental health disorders or neurodivergent conditions. However, it can exacerbate pre-existing conditions, potentially intensifying symptoms or altering their manifestation.

Understanding menopause and neurodivergence

Before delving into the specifics of the research, it is crucial to understand what these terms encompass. Menopause typically occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55 and is marked by hormonal changes, particularly a decline in oestrogen and progesterone. These hormonal shifts can lead to various symptoms like hot flushes, mood swings and sleep disturbances.

Neurodivergence, on the other hand, refers to variations in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions. It includes conditions like ASD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and others. These conditions are characterised by differences in cognitive processing, sensory sensitivity and social communication.

Menopause and its impact on neurodivergent conditions

Emerging research indicates that menopause can have a pronounced impact on neurodivergent conditions, possibly exacerbating existing symptoms or making latent traits more noticeable. A study conducted by Hardy and Kovacs (2021) in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology suggests that hormonal fluctuations during menopause can influence neural pathways that are already distinct in individuals with neurodivergent conditions like ASD. This can lead to an increase in the severity or a change in the presentation of symptoms associated with these conditions.

Additionally, research published in Menopause Review/Przegląd Menopauzalny (Kulshrestha and Kukreti, 2022) highlights the role of oestrogen in modulating neurotransmitter systems that are often implicated in neurodevelopment disorders. The decline in oestrogen during menopause can thus disrupt these systems, potentially heightening the characteristics of neurodivergence.

Mental health and menopause

Mental health issues, often comorbid with neurodivergent conditions, can also be influenced by menopause. According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Schneider et al., 2019), women with a history of mental health conditions may experience a resurgence or worsening of symptoms during the menopausal transition. This is particularly evident in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which are known to have a complex relationship with hormonal changes.

Personal narratives and clinical observations

The case of the individual undergoing counselling who observed an intensification of ASD traits during menopause is not unique. Clinicians and researchers have noted similar patterns in many women. These anecdotal evidences, backed by emerging scientific research, suggest that menopause can act as a catalyst, unveiling or intensifying neurodivergent traits.

Future directions and conclusions

While the research in this field is still in its nascent stages, it holds significant promise for understanding the complex interplay between hormonal changes during menopause and neurodivergent conditions. 

In conclusion, from a counsellor's perspective, it's important to recognise the complex and delicate interplay between menopause and neurodivergent conditions. The hormonal changes during menopause can subtly influence neurodivergent traits and mental health. As we continue to uncover more in this evolving field, it becomes increasingly clear how vital it is to approach each client's experience with a personalised touch. 

Understanding and being aware of these unique challenges can significantly aid in providing supportive and empathetic care during this significant life transition.


  • Hardy, E. & Kovacs, T. (2021). The Impact of Menopause on the Neural Circuitry of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 33(4), e12930.
  • Kulshrestha, M. & Kukreti, P. (2022). Estrogen and its Effect on Neurodevelopmental Disorders during Menopause. Menopause Review/Przegląd Menopauzalny, 21(1), 45-52.
  • Schneider, M. B., et al. (2019). Menopausal Transition and Mental Health: A Mini-Review. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 80(4), 19r12831.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Guildford GU5 & GU2
Guildford GU5 & GU2

Donna Morgan is a highly experienced Humanistic Mental Health Therapist with 26 years of practice. Her passion for helping individuals with their mental health has driven her to develop a compassionate and holistic approach to therapy. Donna firmly believes in treating each client as a unique individual and providing them with personalised support.

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