Our hormones are changing leading up to menopause, during perimenopause, throughout menopause and after. What are these changes and what impacts can they have on our bodies? Let’s dive into how the hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone all change throughout the entire process of menopause. Keep reading this blog post to find out more!
Hormone Changes: Perimenopause
Perimenopause can begin up to 8-10 years before the actual onset of menopause. Perimenopause therefore lasts until the ovaries stop releasing eggs. During this time, your ovaries gradually start producing less of the hormone estrogen. The levels of the sex hormone, progesterone, also decreases during this time. In the final 0ne-two years of perimenopause, before the onset of menopause, the decline in levels of estrogen and progesterone becomes more rapid, and levels drop very low. During this rapid decline in hormone levels, a woman may start to experience the symptoms that are associated with menopause.
Testosterone, another sex hormone, is the primary sex hormone in men. However, women also need and produce testosterone. Testosterone production in women works differently from the production of the other sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The production of testosterone in women peaks at around the 20s and steadily declines after that peak has been reached. Testosterone is made by both the adrenal glands and the ovaries. The ovaries do produce testosterone even after they have stopped producing estrogen during and after menopause.
Hormone Changes: Menopause
Menopause is usually defined when a woman has not had a period for 12 or more months. Once menopause has started, menstruation no longer occurs as the ovaries do not release any more eggs. Many of the symptoms of menopause are caused due to the fluctuations and decline in your hormone levels, particularly estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, during this time.
Throughout menopause, both the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop to a very low level. Testosterone also continues to steadily decline. Estrogen has a number of roles in the body, from learning and bone health to regulating menstruation and promoting the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system. Due to its decline, symptoms such as issues with memory, difficulty concentrating, poor bone density and no more periods arise. Progesterone plays an important role in maintaining early pregnancy and in regulating the menstrual cycle, while testosterone affects a woman’s libido and also helps with the production of estrogen.
Hormone Changes: Post Menopause
Even after menopause, our hormones continue to change. Although the ovaries stop producing estrogen, it is still produced in the body through the adrenal glands after menopause. The adrenal glands make substances called androgens. Androgens can then be converted into estrogen by another hormone called aromatase.
As the levels of progesterone have been rapidly declining throughout menopause, the production of progesterone stops completely post menopause. As mentioned before, testosterone levels are steadily declining in a woman’s body after the peak has been hit in her 20s. Testosterone is continued to be produced by the body even after the ovaries have stopped producing estrogen and after menopause.