Why Is My Voice Getting Deeper?
I was slightly startled this week when my teenaged son's friend got into my car and said greeted me. His voice, which only a few weeks before had been high and squeaky, had dropped several octaves and the skinny boy in my passenger seat now sounded like Barry White.
Of course this is a common event - some boys' voices jump up and down the scale until their hormones leave them with hairy armpits and a rich baritone while others voices seem to gradually get lower and lower as their puberty hormones kick in.
But what I hadn't realized is that thanks to the hormonal changes during perimenopause, some women also can experience quite significant voice changes.
Have you noticed your voice seems deeper? Or are you experiencing harshness of tone and throat dryness, or find yourself clearing your throat more frequently? It might be down to, guess what? Yes – your hormones!
I had no idea that these changes were linked to the menopause, along with the fact that as you age your larynx naturally lowers. You can slather on anti-ageing creams and dye your hair all you like, but when the stranger on the phone adopts a patronizing tone and calls you "dear," you know that those pesky hormones have changed your voice and given your age away.
How Hormones Affect Your Voice
So how exactly do the hormones affect your voice? Well your vocal chords need lubrication to work efficiently and since tissue dryness is a common problem in menopause it can leave you chords dry. It then takes a lot more respiration to vibrate them leading to exhaustion and hoarseness. (This is the same dryness can also affect your undercarriage, leading to dryness during sex.)
Loss of collagen, diminishing lung capacity and muscle tone also affects the voice. These changes are most noticeable in smokers – yet another reason to give up as soon as possible!
The problem is probably most noticeable in singers (obviously) who may not be able to hit the high notes any more and lose pureness of tone across their usual range. The good news is that the voice can be re-trained with special exercises, so if you are serious about your singing it's worth seeking out a teacher experienced in working with women affected by menopausal voice changes.
Teachers, sales staff, call centre telephonists and other people who use their voice a lot during the day might also be keen for a solution to the problem. Doctors report that patients who rely on their voice for a living complain that they get hoarse and tired more quickly as they get older.