Objective: Melatonin synthesis and secretion are partly modulated by estrogen and progesterone. Changes in melatonin concentrations, possibly related to the menopausal transition, may be associated with climacteric mood, sleep, and vasomotor symptoms. The aims of this study were to compare the serum concentrations of melatonin in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women and to evaluate melatonin’s influence on mood, sleep, vasomotor symptoms, and quality of life.
Methods: We analyzed the data of 17 healthy perimenopausal women (aged 43-51 y) and 18 healthy postmenopausal women (aged 58-71 y) who participated in a prospective study. On study night (9:00 pm-9:00 am), serum melatonin was sampled at 20-minute (9:00 pm-12:00 midnight; 6:00-9:00 am) and 1-hour (12:00 midnight-6:00 am) intervals. Questionnaires were used to assess depression (Beck Depression Inventory), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), insomnia and sleepiness (Basic Nordic Sleep Questionnaire [BNSQ]), subjective sleep quality, vasomotor symptoms, and quality of life (EuroQoL).
Results: Postmenopausal women had lower nighttime serum melatonin concentrations than perimenopausal women. The duration of melatonin secretion tended to be shorter in postmenopause, whereas melatonin peak time did not differ. Mean melatonin concentrations and exposure levels did not correlate with follicle-stimulating hormone level, estradiol level, body mass index, Beck Depression Inventory score, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory score, BNSQ insomnia score, BNSQ sleepiness score, subjective sleep score, climacteric vasomotor score, or quality of life. In perimenopause, the later is the melatonin peak, the higher is the level of anxiety (P = 0.022), and the longer is the melatonin secretion, the better is the quality of life (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Longitudinal research is needed to better understand the possible contributory role of menopause in lower melatonin levels.