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Menopause and clumsiness: is there a link?

If you’re all fingers and thumbs at the moment, you may be wondering if your hormones are responsible…

Have you been dropping things more often lately? Or bumping into furniture or stubbing your toes? Maybe you’re tripping up more or getting more bruises? Or spilling your drinks or food down you or accidentally breaking things? Many women find they become clumsier as they become perimenopausal or menopausal, but it can feel unsettling, especially if those around you aren’t sympathetic (your teenager or partner rolling their eyes or making a “funny” comment doesn’t help!).

During the natural ageing process, both men and women experience a decline in motor functions – a review of 40 studies found that older adults have slower reaction times or reduced accuracy of motor tasks or both, and coordination difficulties [1]. However, there are additional factors that can affect women.

Can hormones give me butterfingers?

Dr Lisa Mosconi, neuroscientist and author of The Menopause Brain, has described oestrogen, and oestradiol (the most abundant form of oestrogen in women of reproductive age) in particular, as the master regulator of women’s brains. ‘Oestrogen is like the orchestra conductor of women’s brains. It’s able to orchestrate this harmony and symphony of all different neuronal functionalities almost seamlessly. When oestradiol retires, to some extent, with menopause, the brain or orchestra keeps playing but the tune is not quite the same. For some women this leads to hot flushes, for others there’s insomnia, mood changes, anxiety, brain fog, memory lapses, depression,’ she says.

RELATED: the menopause brain: why it might be feeling strange and what you can do about it

Oestradiol has a beneficial effect on fine motor skills – small movements using small muscle groups, including those in the hands and fingers – and motor coordination, the movement of multiple body parts to perform task such as walking. Spatial ability and cognitive function are also influenced by oestrogens. So, it’s no wonder that when levels of oestrogen drop during the menopause, that these neurological functions are affected.  

And in fact, it’s not just oestrogen that has this effect – progesterone also influences the likes of fine motor skills and performance on spatial tasks [2].

What all this means is that slower co-ordination might affect your balance (and explain those trips) and poorer coordination can lead you to dropping things.

Other menopausal symptoms can also contribute to an increase in clumsiness. If you are struggling with sleep, tiredness can affect your balance, for instance, while muscle and joint pain might make you feel less confident in your body, as can dizziness. If you’re experiencing difficulties with concentration, this could also have an effect.

RELATED: dizziness and the menopause

And of course, many menopausal women find they are busier than ever, with more on their plate, so it’s natural that difficulties to focus could tip over into clumsiness.

Can I improve my clumsiness?

If you find your clumsiness a nuisance, there are a few approaches that might help. Regular exercise can help to improve your strength, balance and stability, particularly if you focus on the likes of yoga or strength training.

Taking HRT, often with testosterone, can improve these symptoms too. There are receptors in cells to oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone in the cerebellum, which is the area of the brain that controls muscles, including balance and movement.

RELATED: get stronger during the menopause

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As women we often pride ourselves on multi-tasking but sometimes, where possible, it is worth slowing down and focusing more on tasks. But mostly, try to develop some self-compassion – as explained, your brain is going through a lot of changes so this is not a time to berate yourself for repeatedly dropping things!

When to get help

Tracking your menopause symptoms on the balance app is a useful way to monitor any new symptoms. You should also have regular eye checks and consult an optician if you have any issues with your vision.

See a healthcare professional if you are experiencing any new or severe headaches, weakness or numbness on one side of your body or if your clumsiness is interfering with your health.

RELATED: internal tremors and menopause: what you need to know


  1. Zapparoli L, Mariano M, Paulesu E. (2022), ‘How the motor system copes with aging: a quantitative meta-analysis of the effect of aging on motor function control, Commun Biol. 5(1):79. doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03027-2.
  2. Maki, P. M., and Henderson, V. W. (2016), ‘Cognition and the menopause transition’, Menopause 23, 803–805. doi: 10.1097/gme.0000000000000681
Menopause and clumsiness: is there a link?

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