Circadian rhythm and menopause

Climacteric. 2016 Dec;19(6):551-552. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2016.1226608. Epub 2016 Sep 2.


Circadian rhythm is an internal biological clock which initiates and monitors various physiological processes with a fixed time-related schedule. The master circadian pacemaker is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus. The circadian clock undergoes significant changes throughout the life span, at both the physiological and molecular levels. This cyclical physiological process, which is very complex and multifactorial, may be associated with metabolic alterations, atherosclerosis, impaired cognition, mood disturbances and even development of cancer. Sex differences do exist, and the well-known sleep disturbances associated with menopause are a good example. Circadian rhythm was detected in the daily pattern of hot flushes, with a peak in the afternoons. Endogenous secretion of melatonin decreases with aging across genders, and, among women, menopause is associated with a significant reduction of melatonin levels, affecting sleep. Although it might seem that hot flushes and melatonin secretion are likely related, there are not enough data to support such a hypothesis.

Keywords: Circadian rhythm; hot flushes; melatonin; menopause.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / physiology
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology


  • Melatonin