Traumatic experiences are associated with a number of adverse mental and physical health outcomes, finds a new study.

The study, to be presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, suggests that they may also be linked with lower concentrations of sex hormones in midlife women — especially women with shorter sleep.

“This work highlights the importance of trauma in relation to health at midlife, particularly given the sensitivity of women’s health to hormones,” says lead author Mary CarsonAfrom the University of Pittsburgh.

Previous research has shown that psychological trauma can potentially suppress ovarian function and reduce ovarian estrogen secretion. However, the relationship between trauma and sex hormones in midlife women remains largely unknown.A

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For this study, the team involved 260 postmenopausal women. It evaluated whether traumatic experiences are associated with levels of estrogens (estradiol, estrone) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and whether this association is affected by sleep duration.

The researchers found that women with a history of trauma had lower levels of estrogens, including estradiol and estrone than women without such history.

There was no relationship between trauma and FSH levels. Findings were not accounted for by depressive or posttraumatic stress symptoms, vasomotor symptoms, or how long a woman had been post-menopausal.

The relationship between trauma and hormones depended on how much women were sleeping — women with a history of trauma who slept fewer than six hours per night had particularly low levels of estrogen.

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