It is no surprise for women that hormones have a huge influence on their bodies. From the beginning of their reproductive lives, women feel the effects of naturally shifting hormone levels, first with the development of the breasts, then with their first menstrual period, and later for many women, pregnancy.
Later in life, however, women experience a drastic shift in their bodies during menopause, a process in which the reproductive years come to a close. As with premenopause, hormones play a primary role in the menopause transition.
Hormonal causes of perimenopause
The relationship between perimenopause and hormones is very clear. As the female body approaches middle age, hormones - specifically estrogen and progesterone - begin to decrease in production. Because these hormones regulate various bodily functions, many women experience symptoms typically associated with menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, mood swings, irregular periods, and loss of libido during perimenopause.
Despite the unpleasant symptoms that occur due to hormone fluctuations, having the right information can make the perimenopausal transition easier. Learn more about the relationship between perimenopause and hormones, as well as the different hormonal treatments available to alleviate symptoms.
Perimenopause and Natural Hormones
Perimenopause and natural hormones have been linked from the beginning, since natural hormones, like progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone are necessary for the menopause process to take place.
Menopause symptoms are usually indicative that the perimenopausal transition has begun and that changes are occurring within the endocrine system.
Process of Perimenopause
- The endocrine system tells the body to produce less follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
- With less FSH in the body, the stimulation of the ovaries also decreases.
- The reduction of estrogen and progesterone levels results in perimenopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings.
Monitoring hormone levels before, during, and after perimenopause is recommended in order to understand what is happening inside the body.
Perimenopause and Estrogen
Perhaps the most important hormone that comes into play during perimenopause, estrogen is responsible for numerous functions inside the body. For example, estrogen helps regulate menstruation, reproduction, neurological processes, bone growth, and much more.
During perimenopause, estrogen is vital despite its decreased production. When estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, the effects are typically quite apparent. As perimenopause brings decreased estrogen levels, women become more susceptible to conditions such as memory loss and osteoporosis.
Fortunately, there are some hormonal treatment options available for women. Read on for more information about the different hormonal solutions for perimenopause.
Perimenopause and Synthetic Hormones
Even though the effects of perimenopause can be unpleasant, there are ways women can manage their symptoms. One treatment option, and one that many women have embraced in the past and continue to investigate, is synthetic hormones.
Bio-identical hormones, a form of synthetic hormones, are created in a laboratory setting and sold as hormones that will mimic and replace the natural hormones the body no longer produces enough of because of perimenopause. Although the use of synthetic hormones during perimenopause can be effective, it is essential to consult a trusted physician to determine both benefits and risks. Since these are individualized preparations, they are considered experimental by the Food and Drug Administration.
Perimenopause and HRT
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment option for women looking to balance their hormone levels. While HRT is a viable, effective treatment option for perimenopause, women should be aware of the risks involved.
In recent years, research has shown that HRT can potentially increase the risk of serious conditions, such as heart disease, blood clots, stroke, and even several types of cancer.
Since HRT is considered a drastic option, and women seeking relief from their perimenopause symptoms should thoroughly explore all treatment options and consult a medical professional before beginning HRT.
Now that the relationship of perimenopause and hormones has been explained, it is time to learn about the different ways hormone fluctuations can manifest in the body. Click on the following link to learn more about symptoms of perimenopause.
- BMJ Group. (2007). "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet.
- Love, S. (2003). Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Menopause and menopause treatments fact sheet. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menopause-treatment.html