Menopause & Hormones
Every women’s journey, a natural part of aging.
Menopause, or “the change of life”, is part of a natural aging process that affects all women. During menopause your body undergoes significant transformations, driven largely by a shift in the levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone.
Every women will go through the menopause transition in their own unique way. Some women have symptoms that range from mild to debilitating. Others just breeze through it, enjoying a new sense of freedom and energy.
Factors that influence the severity of menopausal symptoms include genetics, diet, lifestyle, stress levels, general state of health and the use of prescription drugs.
The 3 Stages of Menopause Transition
The average age of menopause for U.S. women is 51, with most women reaching this milestone somewhere between ages 45 and 55. You’re considered “menopausal” when you haven’t had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months.
- This is the beginning stage of menopause. Reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone fluctuates wildly.
- Can last up to 6 years or more.
- Usually occurs in your 40s.
- Periods become more unpredictable and less frequent.
- You are considered to be in menopause when you are period-free for 12 straight months (and your doctor confirms this is not due to another medical condition).
- The average age of a woman at menopause is 51.
- Estrogen levels continue to drop, causing certain natural changes in the body, which may include hot flashes and night sweats.
- Occurs after menopause and lasts for the remainder of your lifetime.
- Postmenopause usually begins in a woman’s 50s.
- Estrogen levels continue to drop and you may continue to experience similar symptoms as you did during menopause.
The Role of Hormones During Menopause
Hormonal levels are maintained by part of the brain called the hypothalamus. If a body organ decreases production of a hormone, the hypothalamus can sense that and “instructs” the organ to make more.
Not unlike someone who becomes hard of hearing and starts to miss out on communication, aged hypothalamus loses some of its ability to receive signals from the rest of the body. As a result, fewer signals are received by the hypothalamus, fewer signals are sent to make hormones.
Over time, the ovaries produce less and less estrogen. This drop in hormone levels is what triggers menopausal symptoms. Now we can view the menopause is the hormonal imbalance that results from aging of the hypothalamus.
Symptoms of Menopause
The symptoms of menopause are primarily related to an overall decline in the production of the female sex hormone estrogen. Symptoms vary widely because of the many effects that these hormones have on the female body. Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and affects the reproductive system, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and brain.
As a result, women can experience symptoms of menopause over their entire body. Here are some common symptoms of menopause.