Purpose of review: Vestibular disorders are gender distributed with a higher prevalence in women. Although research has increased in this field, the mechanisms underlying this unbalance is unclear. This review summarises recent advances in this research sphere, and briefly discusses sex hormone effects on various vestibular conditions and highlights some recent theories.
Recent findings: Recent work has identified a direct link between aberrant gonadal hormone levels and vestibular dysfunction. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo research suggests that the disorder may be linked to the rapid decrease in oestrogen, observed in menopausal women, which disrupts otoconial metabolism within the inner ear. A successful hormonal therapeutic intervention study has advanced our knowledge of hormonal influences in the inner ear in Ménière's disease. Also, several studies have focused on potential mechanisms involved in the interaction between Vestibular Migraine, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, and gonadal hormones.
Summary: In females, gonadal hormones and sex-specific synaptic plasticity may play a significant role in the underlying pathophysiology of peripheral and central vestibular disorders. Overall, this review concludes that clinical assessment of female vestibular patients requires a multifaceted approach which includes auditory and vestibular medicine physicians, gynaecologists and/or endocrinologists, in conjunction with hormonal profile evaluations.
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