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How Does Menopause Affect Hormone Levels

Whats Considered A High Estradiol Level

Hormones, Menopause Weight Loss. Does Food Affect Hormone Levels #44,S.2 DIRTY, LAZY, Girl Podcast

Elevated estradiol levelsâtypically beyond 350 picograms per milliliter in adult women who have regular menstrual cyclesâcan occur with certain medical conditions that lead to overproduction of the estrogen hormone. Polycystic ovarian syndrome , in which there are many ovarian follicles simultaneously producing estradiol, is an example of how high estrogen levels can develop. Elevated levels of estradiol can also be the result of certain hormone supplements, liver disorders, or elevated levels of androgens .

Blood Estrogen Levels And Breast Cancer After Menopause

Studies have shown postmenopausal women with higher blood levels of the estrogen estradiol have an increased risk of breast cancer .

A pooled analysis of data from 9 studies found the risk of breast cancer was twice as high among women with higher levels of estradiol compared to women with lower levels .

Health care providers dont use blood estrogen levels to assess breast cancer risk. However, this measure may be useful in the future .

Certain factors may increase breast cancer risk by affecting estrogen levels.

Body weight is an important example. Estrogen is produced in fat tissue. In general, higher weight means more fat tissue and higher estrogen levels. This likely explains, at least in part, the increased breast cancer risk in women who are heavy after menopause.

Home Menopause Testing Kits: Are They Worth It

You may have heard about a kit you can use at home to see if you are in menopause. It tests urine for the presence of FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone.

Fine, but heres the first potential trap: Levels of FSH in the blood correlate poorly with menopausal symptoms. So, if a blood test that looks for FSH isnt a reliable marker, neither is the urine test.

As disappointing and surprising as it may seem, many aspects of the menopause process remain a mystery to medical science. The medical definition of menopause is when menstrual periods stop for 12 months as a consequence of the ovaries shutting down. Menopause is not defined by a blood test, or a urine test, or any lab test for that matter.

Women might want to know if their symptoms are a result of menopause, so would FSH testing meet that need? Well, women can have terrible menopause symptoms and yet their FSH level may remain in the premenopausal range. Conversely, women without symptoms such as hot flashes may have an FSH level in the menopausal range.

For all of these reasons, FSH testing is not suited as a routine test for every woman around the age of menopause. Encouraging women without any menopausal symptoms to check their FSH levels is not doing them any service.

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Hot Flashes During Perimenopause

Most women don’t expect to have hot flashes until , so it can be a big surprise when they show up earlier, during perimenopause. Hot flashes sometimes called hot flushes and given the scientific name of vasomotor symptoms are the most commonly reported symptom of perimenopause. They’re also a regular feature of sudden menopause due to surgery or treatment with certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs.

Hot flashes tend to come on rapidly and can last from one to five minutes. They range in severity from a fleeting sense of warmth to a feeling of being consumed by fire “from the inside out.” A major hot flash can induce facial and upper-body flushing, sweating, chills, and sometimes confusion. Having one of these at an inconvenient time can be quite disconcerting. Hot flash frequency varies widely. Some women have a few over the course of a week others may experience 10 or more in the daytime, plus some at night.

Most American women have hot flashes around the time of menopause, but studies of other cultures suggest this experience is not universal. Far fewer Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian women report having hot flashes. In Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, women appear not to have any at all. These differences may reflect cultural variations in perceptions, semantics, and lifestyle factors, such as diet.

How Do I Stay Healthy After Menopause

The Ups and Downs of Hormone Levels and Hot Flashes ...

It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially as you age and your risk for certain medical conditions increases. Some ways for people in postmenopause to stay healthy include:

  • Exercising regularly. Walking, doing yoga or strength training can help lower your risk for many medical conditions.
  • Weight-bearing exercises can strengthen your bones and muscles.
  • Eating a healthy diet. Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains should make up the bulk of your diet. Avoid lots of salt or sugar and limit your consumption of alcohol.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Going through menopause can be uncomfortable and present new challenges and health concerns. Speak with your healthcare provider about any symptoms you feel or questions you have. They can help make sure you are supported through this time and get the care you need.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2021.

References

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Selected Sources & Further Reading

Farhi, J., Homburg, R., Ferber, A. Non-response to ovarian stimulation A clinical sign of impending onset of ovarian failure pre-empting the rise in basal follicle stimulating hormone levels.Human Reproduction 1997 12 241-243.

Okeke et al. Premature Menopause.Ann Med Health Sci2013.

Gold, E. The Timing of the Age at Which Natural Menopause Occurs.Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2011.

Increased Risk Of Some Health Conditions

After menopause, the risk of certain health issues appears to increase. Menopause does not cause these conditions, but the hormonal changes involved may play some role.

Osteoporosis: This is a long-term condition in which bone strength and density decrease. A doctor may recommend taking vitamin D supplements and eating more calcium-rich foods to maintain bone strength.

Cardiovascular disease: The American Heart Association note that, while a decline in estrogen due to menopause may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, taking hormone therapy will not reduce this risk.

Breast cancer: Some types of breast cancer are more likely to develop after menopause. Menopause breast cancer, but hormonal changes involved appear to increase the risk.

Skin changes can also occur around the time of menopause. Find out more.

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What Causes The Menopause

The menopause occurs when all the remaining follicles in the ovaries are lost.

This causes the level of hormones to reduce, causing a womans body to act differently. It is not known at exactly what age the woman will enter the menopause or what causes the ovaries to shut down but it is likely a question of aging or some programming in our genes that controls the function of the ovaries. Removal of the ovaries will cause immediate menopause and some types of cancer treatment may also result in an early menopause.

Are There Any Other Emotional Changes That Can Happen During Menopause

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Menopause can cause a variety of emotional changes, including:

  • A loss of energy and insomnia.
  • A lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating.
  • Anxiety, depression, mood changes and tension.
  • Headaches.
  • Aggressiveness and irritability.

All of these emotional changes can happen outside of menopause. You have probably experienced some of them throughout your life. Managing emotional changes during menopause can be difficult, but it is possible. Your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe a medication to help you . It may also help to just know that there is a name to the feeling you are experiencing. Support groups and counseling are useful tools when dealing with these emotional changes during menopause.

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Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Postmenopause

People in postmenopause are at an increased risk for several conditions:

Cardiovascular disease

Estrogen helps protect against cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, heart disease and stroke. It is also common for people in postmenopause to become more sedentary, which contributes to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These factors combined can increase a womans risk for cardiovascular diseases after menopause. A healthy diet, not smoking and getting regular exercise are your best options to prevent heart disease. Treating elevated blood pressure and diabetes as well as maintaining cholesterol levels are also ways to lower your risk.

Osteoporosis

People lose bone more rapidly after menopause due to decreased levels of estrogen. You may lose up to 25% of your bone density after menopause . When too much bone is lost, it increases your risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures. The bones of the hip, wrist, and spine are most commonly affected. Bone mineral density testing, also called bone densitometry, can be done to see how much calcium you have in certain parts of your bones. The test is used to detectosteoporosis and osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.

Vaginal atrophy

Mental health issues

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Menopause And Your Skin

Estrogen controls female reproduction, among a variety of other female characteristics. But did you know it also affects skin health?

Estrogen influences two key elements of your skin: water retention and collagen production. Water retention is a key element of skin plumpness. But as your estrogen levels decline, so does the amount of water in your skin.

Lower estrogen also means that your body produces less collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes skin firm and resilient, and loss of collagen can also contribute to noticeable skin changes.

Lack of hydration and declining collagen production contribute to the signs of aging in your skin. You might notice skin issues like:

  • Age spots
  • Post-menopausal acne
  • Sagging

Hormonal changes can also cause unwanted hair to grow on your face, such as your upper lip or your chin.

How Do I Manage Symptoms Of Postmenopause On My Own

What Should I Eat During Menopause?

Certain lifestyle or at-home changes can help you manage symptoms of postmenopause. Some of these include:

  • Using a water-based vaginal lubricant during sex to make it more pleasurable. Lubricating the vagina helps with dryness and pain.
  • Regular exercise, meditation and other relaxing activities can help with depression and other side effects of postmenopause.
  • Eating a diet rich in phytoestrogens such as whole-grain cereals, flaxseed, chickpeas and legumes. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake has also been shown to help.

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What Is The Relationship Between Hair Loss In Women And Menopause

During menopause, you might see one of two things happen with your hair. You might start growing hair where you didnt before. Or, you might see the hair you have start to thin. One cause may be changing levels of hormones during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, meaning that the effects of the androgens, male hormones, are increased.

During and after menopause, hair might become finer because hair follicles shrink. Hair grows more slowly and falls out more easily in these cases.

Your healthcare provider will do a thorough examination and take a detailed history to help you deal with changes in hair growth. You may be directed to have your iron levels or thyroid hormone levels tested. Your medications might be changed if what you take is found to affect hair loss or growth.

Fsh And Ovarian Reserve

In women who want to become pregnant later in life, FSH levels are used to test ovarian reserve . Your healthcare provider will have blood work drawn on the third day of your menstrual cycle. The results are typically available within 24 hours depending on the lab.

Based on the results of the lab studies, a fertility specialist will be able to estimate your likelihood of getting pregnant even if you are approaching menopause.

Baseline FSH levels will increase as women enter perimenopause, indicating a decreasing number of oocytes . Perimenopause lasts four years on average and ends when a woman has not had a period in 12 months.

At that point, menopause begins. FSH levels at menopause are consistently elevated to 30 mIU/mL and above.

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Possible Causes Of Abnormally Low Cortisol Levels

Addisons disease

Also called primary adrenal insufficiency, this is a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged and become unable to produce enough cortisol and/or other stress hormones. This is most often caused by auto-immune activity, where the immune system attacks the bodys own tissues. Other potential causes include long-term use of steroid medications, certain blood thinners, tumors and infections.

Problems with the pituitary gland

Low cortisol levels can be caused by the pituitary gland failing to release enough ACTH. This latter is important to trigger adequate amounts of cortisol to be released from the adrenal glands. This is typically referred to as secondary adrenal insufficiency, or hypopituitarism and, can be caused by trauma to the pituitary gland, brain tumors, pituitary gland tumors, stroke, autoimmune diseases and tuberculosis, among many other possible causes.

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Central Nervous System And Menopause

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The association between estrogen and memory function is an intriguing area of research. Normal aging itself induces a decline in certain cognitive capabilities, and a lack of estrogen may contribute to this process. If this is the case, postmenopausal estrogen therapy may be able to preserve this function and slow or even prevent decline in certain cognitive functions.

An inherent difficulty in this area involves the limitations of objective cognitive testing for functions such as memory. Postmenopausal women receiving estrogen therapy have shown better performance on memory testing than postmenopausal control subjects not receiving estrogen therapy. The effect of estrogen is to slow the decline of preserved memory function. Womens Health Initiative data do not show improved cognitive function in women taking either hormone therapy or estrogen therapy.

Current data suggest that Alzheimer disease is more common in women than in men, even when the longer average lifespan of women is taken into account, because AD is primarily an age-related condition. In earlier studies, estrogen therapy appeared to reduce the relative risk of AD or to delay its onset. Estrogen therapy has not been shown to improve cognitive function in patients with AD it cannot reverse previous cognitive decline and therefore has no role as a sole treatment modality in AD. WHI data support this view.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Low Fsh

Women and men may experience a lower sex drive, infertility or fatigue. In children and adolescents, delayed puberty is usually the only symptom. Women may also have symptoms such as: Hot flashes.Men may also have symptoms such as:Erectile dysfunction.Decreased facial or body hair.Mood changes.May 18, 2019

How To Test Your Estrogen Levels

Because hormones and their functions can be so varied, there is no one single test to detect hormonal imbalances and estrogen can be tested in one of three ways:

  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Saliva

Each test involves a different level of medical support, and can give different snapshots of information. For instance, a saliva test collected over the course of a month can provide a more accurate picture than a one time blood draw. Other than a small prick at the point of a blood draw, there are no known risks to any of the collection methods, and no special preparations need to be taken before the test.

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How Does Menopause Affect Your Appearance

    Menopause officially starts one year after you have your last menstrual period. The average American woman enters menopause at age 51 but even before menopause begins, your hormone levels start changing.

    Estrogen and progesterone are the two main female hormones. They influence reproduction and certain female characteristics, and these hormones naturally decline as you get older and approach menopause.

    These hormonal changes are natural. However, dropping hormone levels can trigger a range of symptoms. The best-known symptoms of menopause might be hot flashes or mood swings, but unfortunately, menopause symptoms arent limited to the way you feel inside.

    Your skin, hair, and body weight could also change. Navigating menopause and its symptoms can feel overwhelming. Thats why Farly Sejour, MD, Natalie Gould, WHNP-BC, and our team at Solace Women’s Care offer personalized menopause support for our patients.

    If youve noticed changes in the way your skin looks or feels, nows the time to learn how your appearance is affected by menopause.

    How Does Menopause Affect Estrogen Levels

    Progesterone Function: Role and Effects

    During menopause, your body goes through major hormonal changes, decreasing the amount of hormones it makes particularly estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are produced by the ovaries. When your ovaries no longer make enough estrogen and progesterone, hormone therapy can be used as a supplement.

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    How Does Menopause Affect Gallbladder Disease

    Female gender, increasing age, pregnancy, estrogen therapy, both long-term oral contraceptive use and hormone replacement therapy, are all risk factors for gallbladder disease and gallstones.

    Gallbladder disease is more common in women than men. This is because women have more estrogen and progesterone than men. Both estrogen and progesterone change the composition of bile salts, and affect how fast bile moves through the biliary tract.

    The biliary tract consists of the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts. These are the organs and structures that work together to make, store, and secrete bile.

    Bile helps you to digest fats. Its made mainly of water. The bile salts in bile are what actually break down fat molecules in your small intestines into smaller droplets that your intestines can absorb more easily.

    When estrogen and progesterone levels drop in menopause, blood cholesterol levels increase, bile takes on a higher concentration of cholesterol, the gallbladder doesnt empty as quickly as it did before, bile sits in the gallbladder stagnant for longer periods of time, and gallstones and gallbladder disease are more likely to develop.

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