The question of what's happening during menopause is a great one. The simple answer is low hormone levels. For the first time in your life, you may not recognize yourself. You eat one candy bar and gain a pound. You wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. Each day seems like a roller coaster ride of emotions.
When you're going through menopause, your hormones are changing fast, and so are you. But the good news is that the transition doesn't last forever, and there are some easy ways to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Menopause signals a time in a woman’s life when she’s transitioning from fertile to infertile. At this time, her ovaries stop producing eggs for fertilization. After she completes menopause, she’ll no longer be able to carry a child into this world. While this may bring out feelings of sadness, it’s a normal transition of life; one that every woman goes through.
During menopause, a woman produces less progesterone and estrogen, and her monthly cycles become irregular, less frequent, and eventually stops altogether.
Our bodies produce magical hormones called estrogen and progesterone. Both are the two most essential messengers in the female body. The hormones help give women their feminine characteristics, maintain the health of the female reproductive systems, and make it possible for the ovaries to produce eggs. Both are vital to regulating health and reproductive development for women.
Progesterone and estrogen also play a part in other bodily functions, including bone health, cognitive health, cardiovascular system regulation, and other critical physical processes. When levels become low, it can indicate menopause is near.
People sometimes don't know that there are three estrogen types, and each one plays a role in the female reproductive process.
It's the most prevalent type of estrogen in the fertile years. Both men and women produce estradiol, but women in higher doses. You may experience weak bones, depression, and loss of sexual energy if you have high estradiol levels. Extremely high levels increase the risk of breast or uterine cancer. On the other end of the spectrum, low levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and weight gain.
If you become pregnant, your body generates higher estriol levels to help maintain the placenta and healthy pregnancy. It prepares the body for delivery.
As the weakest form of estrogen, it becomes the most common type present in the female body after menopause. It can also be converted to other types of estrogen if needed.
Progesterone's primary purpose is to prepare the body and uterus for pregnancy and promote a healthy nine months. As a woman moves through her cycle, levels of estrogen decrease, and progesterone increases. If conception doesn't occur, levels taper off, and estrogen increases. Low levels of progesterone levels have different health effects, including:
The normal cycle of menopause has three distinct stages that affect the bodily differently.
Perimenopausal While the perimenopausal stage begins at different ages for each woman, the typical age is the late 40s or early 50s. The time it begins most likely depends on your genes. Premature menopause is experiencing symptoms in your 30s. In the perimenopausal stage, your periods become irregular but haven't ended. Even though you have symptoms, you can conceive.
In this stage, you no longer have a monthly cycle. Doctors consider you in the menopausal stage when you haven't had a period for a year. During this time, you'll experience different symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep problems, and other side effects.
After you've reached a year of your last period, you'll enter the final stage of menopause. Postmenopause is the stage you're in for the remainder of your years. At this stage, you'll no longer have any vaginal bleeding, and if you do, speak to your doctor.
Menopause is the drastic drop in the critical estrogen and progesterone hormones. The dramatic decrease causes painful symptoms, including:
It’s important to note the levels of these symptoms vary for each person. You may experience one or all of these signs of menopause.
How to relieve its symptoms? The specific treatment depends on your doctor's recommendation and symptoms, but the good news is that you have options.
HRT replaces your missing hormones with natural ones. Balancing estrogen and progesterone levels by using a high-quality estrogen or progesterone cream alleviates the painful menopausal symptoms. Since estrogen levels plummet during menopause, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) replaces the estrogen your ovaries stop producing during menopause.
You may also need to supplement with progesterone to balance out the hormones since both estrogen and progesterone work together. In the past few years, HRT has become controversial because some studies showed a link between hormone replacement and increased risk for uterine and breast cancer.
However, later follow up analysis of the studies revealed the small risk was only higher for women in their 60s, way past menopause. Using HRT to relieve the signs of menopause can be useful and beneficial. Speak to your doctor about using estrogen and progesterone to balance your hormones.
In conjunction with hormone therapy, eating a balanced diet of fresh vegetables, fruit, and lean protein gives you a healthy boost, but can boost hormone levels naturally. Foods to eat for a hormone boost include:
What’s happening during menopause creates havoc on your body, but the reason is simple— low estrogen and progesterone. Finding relief is possible with HRT and a healthy diet. It’s possible to make the transition without too much suffering.