Menopausal Symptoms of Hormone Loss
The transition of a female from fertility to infertility is referred to as menopause. Clinically, menopause is defined as ‘permanent and irreversible cessation of monthly menstrual cycles for a period of at least 12 consecutive months’. According to the latest estimates, about 80-90% females achieve natural menopause by the age of 45 to 54 years (1).
But what causes menopause?
An average female is born with over 5 million eggs (also referred to as ova); however, the number of viable eggs decreases as the female age. For example by puberty, most females have only 250,000 – 300,000 functional eggs (1). With progressive aging, the number of viable eggs decreases further and so as the follicular activity that is the basis of hormonal balance.
The physiological transition of menopause is marked by hormonal changes in the body of an adult female; such as:
- Rising levels of follicle stimulating hormone in the serum
- Declining secretion of progesterone and estrogen
Clinical research indicates that hormonal changes commence after 30 years of age until menopause. It is imperative to mention that these hormonal changes are gradual and asymptomatic at first; however, in poorly managed cases, the symptoms deteriorate overtime and aggravates the risk of systemic and sexual health issues.
Symptoms of Menopause:
Hormonal aberrations eventually affects physical and biochemical aspects of health; thereby presenting as following symptoms in menopausal women:
1. Sexual Dysfunction:
One of the early symptoms of menopause is sexual dysfunction that affects the capacity of the women to maintain normal sexual relations due to:
- Decreasing libido (sexual desires)
- Vaginal dryness
- Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
- Impaired fertility
2. Psychosocial changes: A lot of females tend to experience abrupt changes in the mood, motivation levels and stamina that interferes with the personal, professional and social aspects of their life. The low energy levels are also attributed to the changes in the sleep cycle as well as depth and rhythm of sleep. Additionally, a fair percentage of females also develop depression, anxiety and clinical insomnia.
3. Physical Changes: Physical changes due to menopause are characteristic for:
- Loss of breast volume/ fullness
- Thinning of hair
- Dryness of skin
- Changes in the metabolism (that may present as appetite changes and weight gain)
4. Autonomic Changes:
Major sex hormones tend to affect the production and secretion of vital enzymes and chemicals that are required for the maintenance of circulation and other vital functions. With substantial decline in the serum levels of estrogen and progesterone, menopausal females also experience disturbing symptoms like:
- Hot flashes (sudden flushing of face)
- Night sweats
- Loss of bone mineral density (also referred to as osteoporosis) that aggravates the risk of bone fractures or bowing
- Higher risk of cardiovascular ailments
- Cognitive decline and higher risk of developing degenerative brain diseases (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease)
In order to prevent these disturbing symptoms and serious complications (like osteoporosis and heart diseases), healthcare providers recommend bioidentical hormone replacement therapies to restore optimal hormonal balance after menopause.
1. Morris, D. H., Jones, M. E., Schoemaker, M. J., Ashworth, A., & Swerdlow, A. J. (2011). Familial concordance for age at natural menopause: results from the Breakthrough Generations Study. Menopause, 18(9), 956-961.
2. Jonusiene, G., Zilaitiene, B., Adomaitiene, V., Aniuliene, R., & Bancroft, J. (2012). Sexual function, mood and menopause symptoms in Lithuanian postmenopausal women. Climacteric, 16(1), 185-193.