Hormones are constantly at work in your body and can even play a role in certain illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). And, conditions like this can make TMJ issues worse.
The Possible Link Between Hormones and Joint Issues
Although arthritis seems unrelated to hormones, medical research says they may be very related, especially when it comes to RA. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system begins attacking healthy cells instead of foreign invaders. And for women, the experiences of RA are closely correlated with hormonal changes that occur during menstrual cycles, perimenopause, and menopause. Although there is still much more to learn about these things, some studies have found:
The hormones estrogen and progesterone appear to protect against some issues when they are at their highest levels. Women report less discomfort during the latter part of the menstrual cycle, when estrogen and progesterone levels are at their peak. (So if we can support the body in balancing/maintaining levels, this could be a way to support the body in optimal function.)
Pregnant women are far less likely to develop issues or experience flare-ups. Estrogen and progesterone levels soar during pregnancy.
Onset seems to peak for women between the ages of 45 and 49. This is commonly a period of hormonal decline before menopause begins, known as perimenopause.
Women are two to four times more likely to develop joint issues than men, so it’s possible that the hormone fluctuations trigger the onset of the condition in some people, and the hormonal changes that occur throughout life can either protect against symptoms or make them worse. Other factors, such as genetics, environment, diet, smoking, and alcohol use may also increase a person’s risk of having discomfort, but the hormonal link perhaps may explain why issues appear to come and go at certain times for women.
What This Means for TMJD
Knowing that women’s hormones can affect joints in general, we can assume that for some women, hormones may also affect their temporomandibular joint (TMD). This is because the TMJ is a joint like other joints in the body, so the same things can affect it as well. For women who experience discomfort, it can help them understand why their symptoms may get worse at specific times of the month or certain times in their lives.
If you’re having joint issues, it may be important to see your doctor to get testing, but there are also many things you can do to support your body on your own. I share about my own experience with TMJ issues and addressing them naturally so that people can see that there are options, and naturopaths may be also able to assist in this.