Answers to Your Questions About Menopause – Part 1
Q: What causes menopause?
A: Menopause and its many varying symptoms are caused by the reduction of hormones produced within a woman’s body. It is a naturally occurring transition in which women stop menstruating and happens between the ages of 46 to 55. When the female body goes through menopause, menstruation will cease. The process is triggered when there are no more viable eggs within the ovaries and the body decreases its production of estrogen and progesterone.
Q: What are FSH levels and what happens with these levels as we age?
A: FSH stands for follicle stimulating hormone. These hormones act to stimulate the egg (or ovarian follicles) to mature for ovulation. During menopause, the body produces more of this hormone to try to stimulate egg maturity. This is to compensate for the loss of progesterone and estrogen. This also occurs due to the fact that the eggs are no longer viable and maturing as before. There are hormone tests available that show the amount of FSH within your body. If the test indicates high levels of FSH, the body is most likely in menopause. Levels of FSH in menopausal women rise from ten to fifteen times the amount of that found in those that have yet entered the stages of menopause.
There are typically three stages of menopause:
Q: What are LH levels and what happens to these levels as we age?
A: LH, or luteinizing hormone, is another hormone affected by estrogen and progesterone. It is released along with FSH and works to expel the mature egg into the ovaries during mid-menstrual cycle so that the egg will be in position for fertilization. Just as with FSH, LH is found in much higher doses in menopausal women than the general female population. The body produces more trying to trigger ovulation as the process is not working as before. There are hormone tests available to test LH levels as well as FSH levels. Very high levels, just as with FSH, indicate that you are most likely experiencing menopause.
Q: What are the stages of menopause?
A: There are typically three stages of menopause. The first stage is pre-menopause, which is also called peri-menopause. These are usually used interchangeably, though some medical professionals separate the two distinct time periods and four stages. If separated into two categories, pre-menopause is the onset of irregular menstrual periods with no other symptoms. Peri-menopause is then defined by the onset of menopause symptoms as well. The symptoms during this time can become very severe. This stage lasts anywhere from two to fifteen years.
The next stage is the actual onset of menopause when your menstrual cycle ceases completely. Physicians wait one year after your last period to declare the last date of your cycle as the date of menopause. The final stage is post-menopause, which is considered to be the time period from your very last period through the rest of your life.
Q: What are the challenges I may face in menopause and how can natural hormones and herbs help?
A: Menopause may bring hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, depression, vaginal dryness, decreased libido and fatigue. These issues can become quite severe throughout the peri-menopause stage and often disrupt your quality of life. Bio-identical, natural hormones have discovered to be a safe and effective alternative to standard prescription hormones. These natural hormones are naturally occurring substances very similar to the estrogen and progesterone found within the human body.
Natural hormone replacement therapy using natural progesterone with phyto-estrogens can improve your quality of life without dangerous side effects. Black cohosh, chasteberry, red clover, found in EstroRenew are also excellent natural supplements that help ease menopausal discomfort.
©Alternative Medicine Network 2009
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