Understanding menopausal symptoms

Understanding menopausal symptoms

Alexandra Leon

[Return to previous article - Know your menopausal symptoms]


Perimenopause is caused by a decreased production of the hormone estrogen. How can one single hormone cause so many symptoms!? Well, a part from having an effect on your ovaries, estrogen affects multiple parts of the body such as the anterior pituitary gland, the hypothalamus and the uterus.  

Well then, if estrogen is the problem, shouldn't it be the solution too??

Yes, they've looked into that but unfortunately Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, has been shown to also be associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Except as a last resort decision or in particular scenarios, HRT is not recommended. Instead, it is recommended to treat symptoms separately. 

Learn to flow with your body’s needs. If you give your body what it is lacks, you will be in better control of yourself and thus your symptoms. So what do my symptoms tell me about what I need? Here's a little break down of how each symptom come about.

Hot flashes / Night sweats

The body's heat production is regulated by the thyroid gland. Without the estrogen's regulatory input, the thyroid can become imbalanced and cause an inadequate control of body temperature. As a result, the blood vessels lying beneath the skin's surface dilate causing the heat to be released. It is also the reason for the skin becoming red and flushed: more red blood in the skin. To recap, each drop in estrogen produces hot flashes. The same principle applies to night sweat, the difference is that the estrogen drop happens at night. 


Decreased sex drive

Produced mostly by the adrenal glands, but also by the ovaries, androgen is the hormone responsible for sexual desire. With the decrease in the level of activity of the ovaries, androgen secretion decreases proportionally.


Mood swings / Depression

The Estrogen has an effect on the serotonergic and dopaminergic brain. With estrogen depletion, stimulation of the brain's pleasure center becomes more difficult.

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Memory loss / Cognitive abilities

Estrogen is a known vasodilator of the brain's circulatory system, increasing its blood flow and allowing a better oxygenation and nutrition of the brain tissues. Once the estrogen is decreased, the brain must learn to work on a lower supply of oxygen and nutrients concentration.


Vaginal dryness

 Amongst its many other roles, estrogen if responsible for keeping the vaginal walls thick, elastic and moist. With the decrease in estrogen production the walls become thin and dry, leading to itching, a change in pH and painful intercourse.


Weight gain

 Estrogen accelerates the metabolism of fat through its effect on the thyroid gland, once gone, fat is burnt at a much slower pace.

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[ Read more - Naturally relieving menopausal symptoms ]

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