Menopause hub 2018-07-25T11:54:49+00:00

Menopause.
It’s a simple fact of life.

It’s just a natural part of every woman’s life, and if you’ve been through puberty and live into older age, it’s inevitable – you’ll go through the menopause. We’ve all heard tales of other women’s experience of menopause, and whilst it’s true that some women will barely notice they’re in menopause, others will experience more than their fair share of the symptoms caused by changing hormone levels, and particularly, declining oestrogen.

Menopause is a time of change. Hormone levels are changing inside our bodies and whilst we can’t see our hormones, we can definitely see and feel many of the effects that their changing levels have on our physical and emotional well-being.

Menopause.
It’s not a numbers thing.

Clinically, the menopause is defined as the time when a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months, and although some of us will only know that we’re in menopause after it’s happened, most of us aren’t that lucky. For most women, hormone levels will decline over several months, or even several years in the stage known as the perimenopause [2].

The average age for menopause in the UK is 51 but some of us will be older and some younger, so it’s not actually your age that will determine when you reach menopause (although it is a contributory factor) but changing hormonal levels. [3]

Menopause.
It’s got a lot to do with your Oestrogen.

Oestrogen – it’s a woman’s best friend and from puberty until the menopause, we create this wonderful ingredient that enables us to develop from girls into women…and it keeps on producing it, developing and maintaining our internal reproductive organs and protecting so many aspects of our physical and emotional health, right up until after the menopause when our periods stop [5] [6].

For all of our adult life until now, oestrogen has been our body’s best friend, protecting cardio-vascular health, keeping cholesterol levels in check, maintaining strong and healthy bones, helping our brain stay sharp, stabilising blood sugars as well as making our hair glossy and skin healthy and youthful, so it’s really not surprising that we might feel the effects when it starts to decrease.

It’s all about getting the balance right

OESTROGEN

What is Oestrogen?

Oestrogen refers to a group of related sex hormones. A hormone is a chemical released by a gland which acts as a messenger travelling through our bloodstream telling one part of our body to react in a certain way. So, just as the adrenal gland releases adrenalin to prepare the body for action, the ovaries release oestrogen to control puberty and the menstrual cycle … and a whole lot more besides. [1]

From the time that our bodies start to produce oestrogen at puberty, it has a huge impact on our reproductive health, supporting the development and maintenance of our reproductive structures.

Oestrogen plays a vital role in ovulation, supporting conception and preparing the body for pregnancy, labour and breast-feeding; it’s also crucial for maintaining a healthy reproductive system and ensuring good uterine health.

But it’s not only the reproductive system that benefit from oestrogen’s protective effects. [2]

Oestrogen also has an immensely powerful impact on:

Bones

Oestrogen promotes activity of the cells that renew bone (osteoblasts) and it regulates bone remodelling (new bone cells replacing old bone cells) [3] [4]

Heart & Cardiovascular Health

It helps to protect arteries from damage that can lead to cardiovascular disease [5] [6]

Cholestorol 

Oestrogen balances cholesterol levels by increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL), which helps to keep arteries healthy and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease [7]

Maintaining Body Weight

It regulates body weight and glucose metabolism. It also increases sensitivity to insulin, which helps to keep blood sugars stable [8]

Brain

Oestrogen protects the brain, helping cognitive function and blood flow in the brain [9] [10]

Mood

It works with serotonin to act as a natural antidepressant and mood stabiliser and it can help to prevent low mood and anxiety [11] [12]

Skin

Oestrogen influences skin thickness, moisture and wrinkles and can also increase the production of collagen, ensuring that skin stays plump and hydrated. It also suppresses the activity of the glands in the skin that produce oily substances, which reduces the likelihood of acne in female [13]

Hair

It promotes hair growth, lengthens the hair growth phase and ensures that body hair is finer and less pronounce [14] [15]

Reproductive & Urinary Tract 

Oestrogen promotes the development of our reproductive systems, thickens the vaginal wall and increases vaginal acidity which reduces bacterial infections [16]

Urinary Tract

It helps maintain the lining of the urethra and protects against urinary tract infections (UTIs) [17]

So, what happens when that perfect hormonal balance becomes unbalanced?

Oestrogen is produced in the ovaries so anything that affects the ovaries will invariably affect oestrogen levels.

Oestrogen deficiency could indicate a low-functioning pituitary gland, premature ovarian insufficiency, Turner syndrome (a condition that affects development in females), chronic kidney disease, family history of ovarian cysts or other hormonal issues, age (our ovaries produce less oestrogen as we get older) and perimenopause. [18] [19] [20]

During the perimenopausal stage, our ovaries still produce oestrogen but at a slower rate. [21]

TIMELINE OF A WOMAN’S OESTROGEN

Puberty (age 10yrs – 14yrs)

Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulate the ovaries to produce the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Menstruation begins two to three years after the first signs of puberty and ovulation follows once a girl starts having regular periods.

Oestrogen levels rise sharply between about 11 – 14 years and then stays at an even level (excluding pregnancy) until the beginning of menopause. [22] [23]

Pregnancy

Oestriol becomes the dominant oestrogen and is responsible for controlling other pregnancy hormones, ensuring correct development of foetal organs and the placenta, and the growth and development of the mother’s breast tissue in preparation for breast-feeding. [24]

Perimenopause

As oestrogen levels start to decline, the woman enters the perimenopausal stage, which can last up to 10 years. She may experience some of the effects of oestrogen decline, such as hot flushes, fatigue and mood swings, and her periods will become more irregular and less frequent. [25]

Menopause

This is the point when a woman not had a period for 12 consecutive months because the ovaries have stopped producing most of their oestrogen and do not produce eggs. [26]

Is there anything that I can do to boost oestrogen levels once they start to decline?

Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, is used for treatment of menopausal symptoms but is unsuitable for women who have had a stroke, a blood clot, cancer of the breast, womb or ovary, heart disease or untreated high blood pressure, or have liver disease. [27]

A survey carried out by the British Menopause Society revealed that 95% of women said they would try alternative therapies before HRT because they think they are more natural and because they are worried about health risks of HRT. [28]

95% of women are looking for a menopause supplement

Your body
shape.

Bones.

Diet & Exercise.

Skin, Hair &
Wrinkles.

Heart & Cardiovascular Health.

Menopause
jargon buster.

Read the scientific data