How do your hormones change post menopause? Yes – the hormones in our body change after menopause, and how we produce them changes also. Our body is undergoing various changes throughout the menopause journey and it is important to know what these changes are. To learn more about how our hormones change following menopause, continue reading!
What is Menopause?
Menopause occurs when a person has not had a period for 12 months or more, and on average occurs at 51 years of age. During menopause, your ovaries no longer release any eggs into the fallopian tubes and therefore you will no longer experience menstruation.
Menopause is accompanied with various symptoms and signs, including hot flashes and mood changes. Your ovaries are responsible for producing a number of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This production changes after menopause and therefore affects the composition of your hormones in your body.
What are the Stages of Menopause?
This is the stage before menopause has occurred and before you experience any symptoms that are associated with menopause.
Perimenopause is the period of time that is leading up to menopause. Perimenopause is when your body begins to naturally transition into menopause.
This is after menopause has occurred and you have not had a period in 12 or more months.
Estrogen has many functions in the body, including thickening the lining of the uterus during menstruation and stimulating growth of breast tissue. Leading up to menopause, in a period of time referred to as perimenopause, levels of estrogen fluctuate unpredictably in the body. During menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen and levels drop very low.
Although the ovaries no longer produce estrogen following menopause, it does not mean that no estrogen is made in the body at all. Other systems in the body compensate for the lack of estrogen being made in the ovaries. These levels of estrogen are still lower than they were before menopause, but they are not zero. A hormone named aromatase converts androgens that are produced by the adrenal glands into estrogen. This provides the body with a low level of estrogen.
Progesterone is important in the body to maintain early pregnancy and has a central role in the menstrual cycle. Progesterone is another sex hormone that is primarily made in the ovaries and during menopause, after your final period, progesterone levels drop dramatically. Following menopause, the ovaries stop producing progesterone altogether.
Testosterone, despite being the primary male sex hormone, is also produced and is very important in a woman’s body. Testosterone affects libido and assists in the production of estrogen. Testosterone in women is produced by both the ovaries and the adrenal glands, and production of testosterone is at its highest in a woman’s 20’s and then declines continuously. The production of testosterone by both the ovaries and the adrenal glands continues after menopause and estrogen production has decreased.
Tips to Take Care of your Menopause Body
Menopause is a natural process that every woman experiences and we go through a number of different changes. Menopause is also accompanied by various symptoms, but there are ways that these can be managed. Want some tips on taking care of your body during menopause? Keep reading!
Women who have gone through menopause are more at risk of developing osteoporosis and we will explore this link deeper later in the week. The increased risk of osteoporosis is due to the decrease in estrogen levels in the body, as one important role of estrogen is to protect your bones. There are ways to help keep your bones strong and healthy:
Vitamin D and Calcium
Including enough of these nutrients in your diet can help protect your bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Exercising will help strengthen your bones, but it also has other great benefits, such as combating depression and anxiety.
Menopause also puts women at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and the rate of heart attacks in women increases 10 years after menopause. To protect yourself from cardiovascular disease and to maintain a healthy body, consider the following tips:
Reduce salt and saturated fat in your diet
Reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat that you intake can protect you against cardiovascular disease.
If you are a smoker, you may want to consider quitting. Smoking not only increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, but can also trigger hot flashes. Another trigger for hot flashes can be alcohol, so reducing your intake of this can also help.
The female hormones keep your hair full and healthy, and as these decline during menopause, hair loss can be a symptom. Adding or increasing your intake of certain nutrients and vitamins in your diet can help with reducing hair loss:
Protein, Iron, Vitamin B and C
These nutrients may help your body and strengthen your hair. Hair loss can also be genetic, therefore you might want to talk to your doctor about alternative treatments.
Vaginal dryness is another symptom of menopause due to declining estrogen levels in the body, and it affects over 25% of menopausal women. If you are affected by this, note the following:
Moisturizers can be useful to use if you are experiencing vaginal dryness regularly. You can get moisturizers that are specifically tailored to vaginal health.
Vaginal dryness may also lead to pain during sex, in which case a lubricant might be useful to reduce dryness and therefore pain.
Around 75% of women going through menopause experience hot flashes, and they can be uncomfortable and lead to a poor quality of sleep. There are a few habits you can adopt that might help relieve hot flashes:
Bedding and PJ’s
When going to bed, avoid having lots of blankets and wear light pajamas. This can help reduce the intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.
Avoid spicy food and caffeinated drinks
Hot and spicy foods, along with caffeinated drinks and alcohol can all trigger hot flashes, so if you are experiencing a lot of episodes, try to limit your intake of these foods and drinks.
Stress and Anxiety
Menopause can be confusing as your body is changing and you are having to adjust to the new symptoms that accompany it. One of these symptoms may also be stress and anxiety:
To try to promote relaxation and relieve built up tension and stress, you might want to try meditation techniques or exercise like yoga. Meditation can also help to relieve mild hot flashes.
Know what’s happening in your body
Some of the changes in your body might be unexpected or you are unsure of why they are happening. This can often be more stressful as you’re navigating the unknown. To know more about menopause and to understand what your body is going through, check out our other blog posts all related to different aspects of menopause on the HU website. There are also resources on the website for mental health management.