Many factors cause snoring, some unique to women and people assigned female at birth. While nearly all adults snore occasionally, about 24% of women and 40% of men snore regularly.
In some cases, snoring can be harmless to the person who snores, but may keep a bed partner or roommate awake. More importantly, snoring may lead to less restful sleep for the snorer or signal a serious health condition, like sleep apnea.
We cover common causes of snoring in women and when your snoring may be cause to talk to your doctor.
About 1 in 3 people start to snore during pregnancy. Pregnant women may experience an increase in snoring due to several physiological changes that occur in their bodies during pregnancy, including hormonal changes, weight gain, nasal congestion, fluid retention, and changes in sleep position.
Snoring tends to start in the second trimester, becoming more common as the fetus grows. The snoring usually stops not long after the baby is born.
If you’re pregnant, inform your doctor about any snoring since it may be linked to serious conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes that first develops during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes.
Menopause is a natural part of aging that usually occurs mid-life when a woman or person assigned a woman at birth stops menstruating. During the transition to menopause, called perimenopause, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone vary and decline over time. In addition to these hormonal changes, perimenopause and menopause may cause weight gain that may lead to snoring.
Along with other symptoms of menopause, snoring can make getting good sleep difficult for women as they age. Talk to your doctor, who can recommend ways to manage your snoring and other symptoms for more restful sleep.
Snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder that occurs when breathing pauses during sleep. Pregnancy, menopause, and polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition marked by hormone imbalances, may increase a woman’s risk of developing OSA.
With OSA, snoring is usually loud. A bed partner or roommate may notice periods where breathing seems to stop and then hear gasping or snorting. However, some women and people assigned female at birth who have OSA may not snore. That’s why it’s important to be aware of other symptoms and risk factors for OSA and report them to your doctor.
Some other symptoms of OSA that are more common in women include:
- Morning headaches
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleepiness or fatigue during the day
- Trouble sleeping
Other Reasons Why Women Snore
Hypothyroidism, or having an underactive thyroid, is also linked to snoring, and the condition is more common in women and people assigned female at birth.
Of course, there are many other reasons why people of all genders snore. For example, being over the age of 50 raises the likelihood that a person snores. Other causes of snoring unrelated to gender include:
- Drinking alcohol close to bedtime
- Weighing more, especially around the neck or waist
- Taking certain medications, like sedatives or muscle relaxers, before bedtime
- Nasal congestion from allergies or a sinus infection
- Sleeping on your back
A doctor can help determine whether snoring is a symptom of a health issue, such as OSA, and recommend some strategies you can try to stop snoring.