Voice Change Is Overlooked Menopause Symptom
Voice Therapy, Other Options Exist for Women Whose Voice Is Deepening
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Voice Therapy Helps
Indeed, "for most [menopausal] women [who come to my clinic], the No. 1 complaint is voice discomfort or fatigue -- it takes a lot more effort to talk," says Edie Hapner, MD, speech pathologist at the Emory Voice Center in Atlanta.
Tissue dryness is a primary menopause symptom, and it can affect vocal chords. "When the vocal fold tissue dries, it takes more respiration effort to make it vibrate," she tells WebMD. "That respiratory effort over time contributes to vocal fatigue -- you're working harder to use your voice."
"If you're a teacher or anyone else who has to talk throughout the day, every day, by Friday you're exhausted, and it takes the entire weekend to recuperate," says Hapner.
Even younger women feel it during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), she notes. "A lot of professional singers report this. But when you think about it, it makes sense. With PMS, we have swelling, we feel achy. A lot of singers fear onset of perimenopause and menopause because of these changes."
Voice therapy can help relieve vocal fatigue, Hapner tells WebMD. "We have exercises that work quite well with the aging voice, to rebuild muscle tone and make production of voice more efficient."
The link between hormones and voice is "very interesting," she notes. "Many singers don't mind taking HRT to extend their careers -- to increase hydration, prevent lowering of pitch. Other researchers talk about finding the right balance between [the important hormones] estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone."
Since professional singers and other women have much at stake with these vocal changes, Hapner expects this group of Austrian researchers to keep working to find the right HRT balance for women, to relieve this menopause symptom.