In this Series of Articles on Menopause & Hormone Balance we are going to discuss what is menopause, why it occurs, what are the symptoms and natural solutions for symptom relief!
It is important to learn so you understand the natural changes a woman’s body goes through and know that menopause is not a disease or something to fear!
What is Menopause?
Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation, usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55. In other words it is when menstruation or the monthly cycle of periods is permanently brought to an end.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are powerful chemicals that are produced by endocrine glands in your body in small amounts. Hormones are then released into the blood stream and carried to the cells in your body.
Hormones produced from your glands interact with each other in complex ways to help regulate, control and coordinate the function of your cells, organs and body.
What are the Endocrine Glands in your body that produce hormones?
Endocrine glands produce and secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. The following glands make up the endocrine system:
- Pineal Gland
- Ovaries (in women)
- Testes (in men)
- Adrenal Glands
What Happens in Menopause?
Most women experience changes in their menstrual cycle between the ages of 45-55 before their periods completely stop. In the years leading to menopause (called perimenopause) the production of follicles in the ovaries and hormones drops significantly. A female has 1-2 million follicles in her ovaries at birth which decreases to approximately 1000 by age 51.
What are follicles?
Follicles are where eggs develop and are supported in the ovaries. Over time, as the eggs mature, the cells in the follicle divide rapidly and the follicle becomes larger.
During this process many follicles lose the ability to function however one follicle dominates in each menstrual cycle. The egg in this follicle is released at ovulation (which is the mid-point of each menstrual cycle).
Typically only a single egg from one ovary is released during each menstrual cycle and each ovary takes an alternate turn in releasing an egg.
A woman has 2 ovaries located on either side of her uterus.
What else do ovaries do?
The ovaries have many functions. In addition to the ovaries producing and releasing eggs (called oocytes) into the female reproductive tract (at the mid-point of each menstrual cycle), they also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Here’s what happens: as the follicles develop, they produce the hormone estrogen. Then when the follicle releases the egg at ovulation, the empty follicle in the ovary releases the hormones progesterone (in a higher amount) and estrogen (in a lower amount).
The hormones estrogen and progesterone prepare the lining of the uterus for a potential pregnancy (if the released egg becomes fertilized). If the released egg is not fertilized and pregnancy does not occur then the secretion of both estrogen and progesterone declines.
What is Menopause?
Menopause refers to the end of a woman’s reproductive years following her last menstruation. At the time of menopause the ovaries contain very few follicles and have decreased in size and consist mostly of shrunken follicles, some interstitial cells (cells that lie between other cells) and fibrous tissue. Hormone production decreases significantly.
What are Menopause symptoms?
Many women report hot flashes, fatigue, depression, insomnia, mood swings, decreased libido and weight gain (particularly belly fat).
What are Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are described as a sensation of heat which can be accompanied by sweating, flushing and chills and affects approximately 75% of women in America for an average of 4 years. Hot flashes can aggravate both insomnia and anxiety leading women to seek medical care.
Stay Tuned For Part 2 where we will discuss 5 reversible leading causes of hormone imbalance!