The last thing we’re thinking about in out twenties is “what will happen to all these hormones during the menopause?”
If only we’d appreciated it at the time! In our twenties we have shed the uncomfortable teens and have spread our adult wings.
Our skin has plenty of elastin and collagen which makes it firm and springy.
Bone mass and lean muscle is at its peak.
The sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH, LH, DHEA) are at optimal levels and control our menstruation and fertility.
In our Thirties…
Our metabolism slows down a little, it’s easier to gain weight.
As we approach forty our fertility declines, oestrogen levels decline and so does the amount of collagen and elastin in our skin.
There is also a decline in collagen and elastin in our connective tissues, tendons and ligaments.
These are the transitional years between childbearing and menopause and therefore this is usually when we go through the perimenopause.
The first reproductive hormone to decline is progesterone, followed by oestrogen and some others. FSH levels may increase initially as there is an attempt to stimulate follicles in the ovaries. Raised FSH can be an indicator of perimenopause and menopause.
The symptoms that foreshadow the menopause include missed periods, PMS, breakthrough/midcycle bleeds, palpitations, migraines, hot flushes/sweats, vaginal dryness, insomnia, back pain, aches, anxiety….. such fun!
It is so important that we try and take care of ourselves at this time. Unfortunately we can be so exasperated about it all and sometimes in denial, that we often don’t.
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Next comes Menopause..
Technically this is defined as 12 months after your last period. Thereafter you are supposedly postmenopausal although in reality the whole process is a transition from one stage to another. It can take years.
The average age of menopause is 51. It can be much younger in smokers however.
Menopause is when your body is switching off its reproductive capacity and can drastically affect the whole body.
So, what is happening to our hormones during the menopause? The oestrogen levels which fluctuated greatly during perimenopause drop by 75% or more. For some this causes few problems.
For others there can be unpleasant effects such as acne, hair loss, aches and pains, exhaustion, weight gain (particularly around our middle, thighs, bottom, chin.)
The loss of oestrogen can lower libido and cause vaginal dryness.
Bone mass can be lost quite rapidly. The declines in oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA cause a change in the absorption of skeletal calcium and a risk of osteoporosis.
It is important to try and counteract this with Vitamin D and K supplements, strength training and eating a diet high in alkaline-forming foods. If osteoporosis develops, it can’t be reversed.
However, menopause is not a disease! It is a perfectly natural stage of our lives and it does end. Hopefully!
Does Acupuncture for Menopausal Symptoms Work?
In my experience it definitely does work but don’t take my word for it; there is plenty of research to back this up.
A Danish study (Feb 2019) published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and found that after five weeks of acupuncture, women with menopausal hot flushes experienced reduced hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and emotional problems.
I’d definitely advise combining acupuncture with some nutritional therapy.