Your endocrine system has an enormous impact on your health and well-being. Whether it’s the strength of your bones, the elasticity of your skin, your mental health, libido, hair growth, or sleep, hormones affect all of them. And because with age, your hormonal levels change, your physical and mental health change, too.
In this article, you will find out how hormones can impact your life before and after 50. You will discover how estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone work, how their levels change over time, what causes menopause, and how to deal with hormonal imbalance. Read on, learn more about your endocrine system, and get in control of your body.
Menopause: The Hormonal Shift That Comes With Aging
Let’s start with one of the essential hormonal changes that occur as a woman ages – menopause. Menopause is the end of menstruation and fertility. It happens at different ages for different women, but the average age is 51 years old. It is caused by a decrease in the amount of circulating estrogen, which causes a cascade of physical and emotional symptoms.
Estrogen and progesterone are the primary female hormones. Estrogen levels increase during puberty, peak around age 35, and then start to decline. Estrogen helps control the menstrual cycle, bone density, and libido. Progesterone is generally produced after ovulation, and its purpose is to support pregnancy. If you are not expecting, then you will produce less progesterone.
The levels of both estrogen and progesterone decrease during menopause, leading to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, fatigue, and insomnia. Women also may experience common menopausal symptoms after having a hysterectomy – you can visit this wellness center website for more information about this surgery.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
If you are experiencing debilitating menopause symptoms, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT can help relieve symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. It can also help strengthen bones and prevent vaginal dryness or atrophy.
If you consider taking HRT, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks, as HRT can also pose health risks, such as the increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease. If you decide against HRT, there are ways to manage menopause symptoms naturally.
The Menstrual Cycle And Fertility
The menstrual cycle is controlled by two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. As mentioned above, estrogen increases during puberty and peaks when a woman is in her mid-20s to mid-30s. As a woman ages, she will produce less estrogen, and this decline will trigger the monthly period (menses), which ends when progesterone levels rise again.
The first day of your period is considered day one of your cycle. Your cycle is deemed to be regular if your menses occur every 28 days or so. You will experience three phases during your cycle: the follicular phase, the midcycle phase, and the luteal phase.
After menopause, your menstrual cycle will stop unless you are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). If you are not taking HRT, your cycles will become irregular after menopause. However, some women do experience irregular bleeding into their 50s and even their 70s. You should discuss any irregular bleeding during menopause with your doctor.
The Role Of Progesterone In Menstruation And Pregnancy
Progesterone plays an essential role in fertility because it supports the growth of the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy as well as induces ovulation – the release of an egg from the ovary. If you are not expecting but are still producing progesterone, you will get your period every month.
However, if you are not expecting but are not producing progesterone, you will not get your period every month; this is known as amenorrhea. Amenorrhea occurs most often during adolescence and early adulthood but can also occur later in life due to stress or illness like anorexia nervosa or cancer treatment (i.e., chemo).
Hormones And Your Bones
Your bones are constantly changing. When you are young, your bones are more flexible, but as you age, your bones become more rigid. This means that they will have less flexibility and be more prone to fractures.
Moreover, as you age, the amount of estrogen in your body decreases. This leads to a decrease in calcium absorption. And since a lack of calcium can cause osteoporosis, you may need to consult with your doctor to take supplements or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). If you do take HRT, make sure that it contains both estrogen and progesterone because they work together to increase bone density and support bone health.
Learning about how hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone work and affect your well-being is essential to understand and accept the changes in your body you may experience later in life. When menopause arrives, it is crucial to be mindful of its symptoms and consult with your doctor if some of them are severe and interfere with your everyday life.
A doctor will be able to determine the proper treatment for your individual case and help you deal with hormonal imbalance. In some cases taking natural supplements or medications are enough, and some may require hormone replacement therapy.