Changing hormones can wreak havoc on your system as you approach menopause. In fact, menopause can cause a depletion in several key hormones needed by the body to function optimally – including estrogen, progesterone and even testosterone. Due to the aging process, the ovaries stop communicating and receiving hormonal request signals in an efficient manner. As a result, hormonal production declines, leading to a loss of fertility, and a host of side effects experienced as menopause symptoms.
The Impact of Hormonal Changes During Menopause
When hormone levels fall out of balance, virtually every system in the female body can become affected. Women experience physical symptoms, like hot flashes and night sweats as temperature dysregulation occurs. Fertility becomes notoriously affected, as well, due to lowered progesterone and estrogen, causing ovulation to slow down, and periods to become irregular and eventually cease.
Physical Effects of Hormonal Changes During Menopause
Women also experience other physical symptoms as hormones fall out of balance. Sex drive becomes affected in most women, as declining levels of hormones (including testosterone) lower libido, reduce vaginal lubrication, and cause genital itching and painful intercourse. Many women also experience urinary incontinence during menopause – a symptom that herbal remedies, and even hormone replacement therapy, are often unable to effectively alleviate. Immunity can even become affected as menopause sets in, leading to increasing urinary tract and vaginal infections, as well as allergies that worsen with age.
The Effects of Menopause Hormonal Changes on Appearance
Appearance can also become affected by hormonal changes during menopause. The notorious “midlife weight gain” the majority of women experience can lead women to gain unnecessary pounds, as the body retains water and stores fat cells to use as an estrogen source. The skin begins to lose elasticity during menopause, with hormonal imbalances leading to increased dermatological conditions such as dryness, eczema, flushing, acne and proneness to wrinkling. Some women experience hormonally driven hair loss, as well. Other health risks associated with menopause include loss of bone density through osteoporosis, increased risk of heart disease and aching muscles.
Mental and Emotional Effects of Menopause Hormone Changes
Psychologically, women can also suffer due to hormonal changes. Because brain chemicals – known as neurotransmitters – rely on hormones in order to properly regulate, chemical imbalances can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia and irritability. Because hormonal levels can flux during menopause, many women experience a polar swing between emotions, leading to rapid mood swings, sudden bouts of anger, lethargy and crying spells. Norepinephrine levels can also become affected by menopause, leading to lowering energy, surging heartrate, panic attacks and generalized anxiety. Women may also experience cognitive struggles as a result of fluctuating hormonal levels during menopause, leading to short-term memory lapses, “brain fog” and difficulty concentrating.