Strictly speaking menopause means your final menstrual period. More commonly it is the decade in which your ovaries stop developing eggs and as there is a decline in hormone levels, most notably estrogens. This is the ‘change of life’ and is bought about by biological changes that carry with them immense physical and emotional changes as well.
Although a natural part of the life cycle, western medicine has viewed it as a debilitating disease. It is in fact a gateway to a new and liberating phase of life.
The root of menopausal symptoms is the decline in estrogen levels. When this level can be elevated the physical discomforts can be alleviated. Lack of estrogen may cause hot flushes, tears, emotional displays as well as breast and uterine cancer.
Estrogen is in fact a class of hormones made up of three players – Estrone, Estradiol, and Estriol. Estradiol is the primary estrogen produced by the ovaries and is the key to the changes in a female’s body. At puberty it is instrumental in the development of breasts and genitalia and the extra layer of fat under the skin. When menstruation starts other hormones enter the picture, mainly progesterone.
From the beginning of a menstrual cycle until about day 14, estrogen flows, peaks and then declines. At this stage (day 14) progesterone production starts to increase reaching a maximum at about day 22 when, (if no egg is fertilized) it starts to fall dramatically until day 28 when menstruation occurs.
This cycle continues for the next 35-40 years.
Estrogen and progesterone begins to decline during a women’s 30’s but do not become evident until her 40-50’s when cycles become irregular and the classic symptoms of menopause appears, i.e. night sweats, hot flushes, etc. With this decline in estrogen the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and memory loss, increase dramatically!