Since hormones play an important part in women's bodies, it is important to understand the connection between postmenopause and hormones.
Hormones both cause the symptoms associated with postmenopause and can help alleviate them, since the levels of hormones is key. In this section, you will find information about both natural and synthetic hormones, as well as their benefits and risks.
Postmenopause and Natural Hormones
Levels of primary sex hormones generally reach consistently lower levels in postmenopause than in premenopause. This shift can cause several symptoms.
Estrogen is one of the main female sex hormones and is responsible for preparing a woman's body to conceive and carry a child. When women enter puberty, their bodies begin to produce more estrogen, but as their reproductive years wane, so does estrogen production.
A decrease in estrogen levels is often the cause of postmenopause symptoms. There are, however, a few ways to reintroduce estrogen naturally.
Like estrogen, progesterone is another one of the primary hormones women need for a healthy reproductive life. Progesterone works with estrogen to ensure that women are able to conceive and carry a child to term. Progesterone plays an especially important role in ovulation, but once a woman is no longer ovulating, as is the case during postmenopause, progesterone levels drop to almost zero.
To avoid uncomfortable postmenopause symptoms, progesterone and estrogen should be balanced. Too much of one or the other might cause symptoms to worsen.
While testosterone is the predominant male sex hormone, it does appear in women in small amounts. Testosterone's primary function in women during their reproductive years is to create a stronger interest in sexual activity around the time of ovulation, thereby increasing the chances of conception.
In postmenopausal women, testosterone production does not decrease as much as estrogen and progesterone production does. This can cause testosterone levels to be higher relative to the female sex hormones, sometimes leading postmenopausal women to have deeper voices or more noticeable facial hair.
Postmenopause and Synthetic Hormones
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of the most popular treatments used by premenopausal and postmenopausal women in the United States. HRT works much in the same way that phytoestrogenic herbs do, by reintroducing estrogen into a woman's body, thereby balancing her hormone levels.
HRT also has some serious disadvantages. Most notably, a 2002 study revealed that women who take synthetic hormones in the form of HRT are significantly increasing their risk of developing heart disease, blood clots, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
Hormonal changes associated with postmenopause are what causes uncomfortable symptoms that many women experience. While these symptoms are normally not debilitating, they can be frustrating, and many women seek to treat them naturally. Check out the following link to learn more about the different symptoms of postmenopause.
- Love, S. (2003). Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Menopause. Retrieved April 1, 2016, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/menopause