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What is Menopause? Age Related Declines in 3 Essential Hormones

What is Menopause? Age Related Declines in 3 Essential Hormones

Female menopause is an easily treatable medical condition that results from age related declines in three essential hormones: estrogen and progesterone, which plummet precipitously in middle age, and testosterone, which gradually diminishes in both men and women beginning in our mid-30’s. Classically, menopause equates with loss of estrogen and progesterone, and yet testosterone is equally essential to a woman’s health and wellbeing and interestingly present in higher concentrations in women than estrogen throughout most of life.

Estradiol, Progesterone, and Total and Free Testosterone

Menopause is diagnosed by a combination of telltale signs and symptoms, menstrual patterns, and confirmatory laboratory studies including estradiol, progesterone, and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

Note that, traditionally testosterone deficiency is not equated with menopause. At the same time, treating a menopausal women whose testosterone is symptomatically deficient will only partially restore her sense of normalcy and well-being and so, depending on testosterone lab studies and low testosterone symptoms, we will likely recommend all 3 hormones for menopausal women.

For further insight on the benefits of estrogen in menopause, consider Estrogen Matters by Dr. Avrum Bluming. For similar insights on the benefits of testosterone in middle aged women, consider Dr. Susan Rako’s short but insightful book, The Hormone of Desire.

Symptoms and Health Risks

The decline of each of these hormones results in a cornucopia of symptoms and health risks. The health risks are more specifically associated with loss of estrogen, wherein replacement then prevents  cardiovascular risks like heart attacks and strokes, osteoporotic bone loss leading to hip and other untoward fractures, and Alzheimer’s and microvascular dementia and memory loss, among others. Progesterone and testosterone both amplify the benefits of estrogen and, again, help women going through hormonal sea changes associated with mid-life feel more like their normal and better selves.

Given that this can all be done safely when properly delivered, logic would culminate in the following sensible conclusion: menopause is a hormonal deficiency state in which optimal levels of progesterone and estrogen (in addition to testosterone) should be restored to promote a woman’s health, quality of life, and youthful vigor.

Properly Delivered Natural Hormonal Restoration

And why not? Average life expectancy of a woman at the beginning of the 20th century was 47 years. One could argue there was no need to treat menopause then. But times have changed. We’re in the 21st century with women living far beyond 47. For the second half of a woman’s life, research has shown abundant benefits behind properly delivered natural hormonal restoration.

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