Menopause marks the transition in women from fertility
to non-fertility. Ovulation ceases and menstruation
stops. Clinically, menopause is referred to as the date
of the day after a woman's last period ever finishes.
Many of the physical and personal changes associated
with aging are linked to declining hormone levels. This
decline in hormone levels affect the length of telomeres.
From the age that reproduction typically begins in
the human species, individuals decline in overall efficiency,
and their vulnerability to injury and illness increases.
The technical term for this decline is 'senescence',
less precisely termed 'aging'.
Hormones produced by glands, organs, and tissues, hormones
act as the body's chemical messengers, flowing through
the blood stream searching for special receptors. The
activity of receptors are controlled by the specific
hormone that fits it and also, to a lesser extent, by
closely related hormones. The most commonly known are:
- Testosterone - The male hormone,
testosterone is produced in the testes and may decline
with age, though less frequently or significantly
than oestrogen in women. Studies investigating its
ability to strengthen
muscles and prevent frailty and disability in
older men are continuing. Its side effects are still
unproven, and may include an increased risk of certain
cancers, particularly prostate
- Oestrogen - The female hormone,
produced mainly by the ovaries. In hormone replacement
therapy, oestrogen is used to relieve discomforts
of menopause, slow reducing bone density and help
Menopause marks that point where the levels of estrogen
in the body are insufficient to support reproduction.
Symptoms Of Menopause
The normal age range for menopause is between age 45
- Premature menopause is used to describe those having
their last period ever prior to age 40. This is not
considered due to normal causes.
- Early menopause is defined as age 40 to 45.
- Late menopause is used for those ceasing menustration
age 55 to 60
This change of life can be quite traumatic for some
due to the symptoms that accompany the change in hormones,
as well as the psychological acceptance of passing beyond
their child bearing years.
Symptoms generally occur in the Perimenopause period;
those years both before and after the last period. They
include: hot flashes, mood changes, insomnia, weight
gain.This can also show as aching joints, sore breasts,
mood swings, bloating, digestive changes and loss of
Postmenopause refers to the years following 12 months
after last period ever. The reason for this delay in
declaring a woman post-menopausal is because periods
become very erratic at this time and reasonable time
is necessary to ensure cycling has actually ceased.
In women who have no uterus and therefore have no periods,
post-menopause can be determined by a blood test which
can reveal the very high levels of FSH or Follicle Stimulating
Hormone typical of post-menopausal women.
Symptoms of perimenopause can begin as early as age
35, although most women do not become aware of them
about 10 years later.
Perimenopause, the menopause transition time, can last
for a few months, for several years, or for 10 years
or even longer.Menopause has been compared to "puberty
Not every woman suffers symptoms during perimenopause.
- About one third of all women get no noticeable symptoms
other than their periods become erratic and then stop.
- Another one third of women have moderate symptoms.
- The remaining one third of women have very strong
symptoms which tend to have a longer duration. The
tendency to have a very strong perimenopause may be
inherited in some cases.
Menopause and Hysterectomy
The ovaries are endocrine glands that produce hormones.
Removal of the uterus, known as hysterectomy, does not
itself cause menopause. However, any pelvic surgery
can sometimes precipitate an earlier menopause due to
compromised blood supply to the ovaries.
Menopause and Octectomy
Removing the ovaries however, causes an immediate and
powerful surgical menopause, even if the uterus is left
Menopause and Anti-Aging
Many antiaging methods are based on preventing estrogen
levels and other hormones from dropping. This is done
using a combination of natural supplements or treatments
- Growth Hormone - A product of
the pituitary gland, GH impacts body composition,
muscle strength and bone strength. More
on Human Growth Hormone
- Melatonin - Produced in the pineal
gland responds to light and regulates seasonal changes
in the body. As it declines during aging, it may trigger
changes in the endocrine
system, which impact sleep and ones ability to
adjust time zones.
- DHEA - [dehydroepiandrosterone],
is produced in the adrenal glands. Although it is
regarded as a weak male hormone, it is present in
both sexes. More on DHEA
Most hormones begin their decline at about age 30,
and peri-menopausal symptoms in women are not uncommon
from 35 onwards until full menopause is reached.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement is aimed at restoring hormone
levels to those normally present for several decades
during early adulthood. Safe levels at age 30 will remain
safe when restored to that same level later in life.
Adverse effects from hormone replacement result only
from excessive doses.
When some declining hormones are replaced, various
signs of aging diminish.
Oestrogen replacement therapy has been used for some
years, in spite of divided controversy. Concerns about
cancer risks surrounding oestrogen replacement therapy
have yet to be resolved, but many individuals agree
that the small increase in risk is largely outweighed
by the improvements in life quality. The inclusion of
progesterone in estrogen therapy offsets most of the
risk of using estrogen supplement alone.
Human Growth Hormones
Hormones known collectively as growth or trophic factors
stimulate production of insulin-like growth factor [IGF-1]
produced primarily in the liver. IGF-1 flows through
the blood stream seeking IGF-1 receptors on the surface
of various cells, including muscle cells to stimulate
their growth and health.
The action of GH is naturally increased by exercise.
The rate at which cells reproduce is impacted by the level
Growth Hormone in the body. HGH levels decline from
the age of 20 and as such, it is a common antiaging method
to "supplement" these levels. As replacement
through pills or injections is not effective in the first
instance and expensive and inconvenient in the latter,
a more reliable method is to use supplements that act
as catalysts to encourage the body to produce higher levels
of these hormones.
To date, only estrogen-progesterone drugs are prescribed
for treatment of symptoms of menopause. Unfortunately,
very few of the medical profession see reaching menopause
as unnecessary and support the ongoing use of these and
other growth hormones such as HGH.
Recent research has shown that melatonin supplementation
in perimenopausal women can produce a highly significant
improvement in thyroid function and gonadotropin levels,
as well as restoring fertility and menstruation and
preventing the depression associated with the menopause.