Menopausal Years, Symptoms, Tips & Management – Part 2

Last corner I laid out the stages of Menopause including Peri and Post.  In this corner I am going to explain the different hormones and how they impact the body.  These hormones start having an impact during the first change in life into puberty.  There is lots of education in this area and into the fertile- pregnancy years, but then fizzles off into the Menopausal years.  Information is out there if you know where to get it, and are able to connect the dots with the signs and symptoms.  There can be some common symptoms, but it’s the not so common ones where a woman can feel alone or frustrated. Below are the functions of some of the key hormones that should be understood.  

The Impact of Estrogen and Progesterone:

Estrogen is a steroid sex hormone which includes 3 steroid hormones estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3).  These give you curves, support a balanced mood, improve memory, help with strong bones, strengthen immunity, and keeps skin plump and moisturized.

Low estrogen

  • Painful sex due to low levels causing vaginal dryness 
  • Increase in UTI’s – urinary tract infections because thinning of urethra
  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Mood shifts 
  • Hot flashes 
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Increase in migraines or headaches or severity of
  • Depression
  • Mind fog or trouble concentrating 
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations (due to rise and fall of estrogen)

You may also find that your bones fracture or break more easily. This may be due to a decrease in bone density. Estrogen works in conjunction with calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals to keep bones strong. If your estrogen levels are low, you may experience decreased bone density.

Also, in the fertile years if left untreated, low estrogen can lead to infertility in women.

Causes of low estrogen:

  • Over exercise, to the point where it impacts daily life in a negative way 
  • Eating disorders 
  • A low or deficient functioning pituitary gland 
  • Genetic irregularities, toxin or autoimmune condition that causes premature ovarian failure 
  • Chronic kidney disease or turner syndrome 

Other more specific symptoms that may be more relevant to women over 40 are, perimenopause or menopause, in where levels naturally drop.

Progesterone is also a steroid sex hormone that stimulates and regulates important functions, playing a role in maintaining pregnancy, preparing the body for conception and regulating the monthly menstrual cycle.  Progesterone’s job is to maintain the uterine lining which also helps to prevent the development of endometrial cancer.  Its job is to maintain a pregnancy, should your egg be fertilized during that cycle. If an egg isn’t fertilized, progesterone levels drop, triggering menstruation. Progesterone is also a calming, mood, sleep, libido and bone-enhancing hormone.  It is made from cholesterol and released from the corpus luteum a temporary organ (part of the ovary).  

Low progesterone

  • Irregular cycles
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • PMS symptoms – irritability, sore breasts, water retention
  • Infertility or low fertility
  • Low libido
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Miscarriage

Some causes of low progesterone:

  • Stress and it’s connection to cortisol (next corner for this one)
  • Low thyroid hormone
  • Age – as we move into peri-menopause there may be more anovulatory cycles and then no progesterone production in menopause
  • High estrogen – If progesterone is low in relation to estrogen, then there possibly is estrogen dominant symptoms
  • Insulin resistance or PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome 
  • Inflammation – from a gut infection, food allergy or other root cause

Weight gain can also be a problem with aging, as part of normal life for both men and women because of metabolism naturally slowing down.  For women there is even a bit more of an impact in relation to hormones, which will be explained more in depth in the next few corners.

*If this article or any past articles leaves you with questions, the want to be a better you, the courage to take the first step to a happier you, than please contact me at: 

Mikkie Nettles, Certified Personal Trainer/Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
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