Marla Ahlgrimm | Women’s Hormones And Menopause

Marla AhlgrimmWomen have three primary sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. What happens to these during menopause? And what do they do anyway? Marla Ahlgrimm answers a handful of common questions in today’s brief blog.

Q: What are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone?

Marla Ahlgrimm: These are sex hormones that determine, among many things, when a woman is ready to bear children. They are present throughout a woman’s lifetime, but undergo major changes both at puberty and at menopause. Estrogen is the hormone primarily responsible for the physical changes that signal womanhood, including the growth of breast tissue.

Q: What does progesterone do?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Progesterone has many jobs. One of its most vital functions, however, is preparing the uterine lining for a fertilized egg. Progesterone is also crucial to women during their childbearing years as it plays a significant role in maintaining early pregnancy. During menopause, the body naturally reduces the amount of progesterone it produces. This can cause irregular periods, which might be heavier and longer during perimenopause.

Q: Why do women have testosterone?

Marla AhlgrimmMarla Ahlgrimm: Although testosterone is most closely related with masculinity, it assists in estrogen production in women. Testosterone also helps regulate libido and maintain muscle and bone mass. A menopausal woman has testosterone levels approximately half of what she did in her 20s. The ovaries do continue to produce this hormone.

Q: Is a fluctuation of these hormones responsible for the unpleasant effects of menopause?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Absolutely. Fluctuating hormone levels trigger everything from night sweats to weight gain. Hormones also play a role in mood regulation and even hunger. Women in menopause will experience a change to all of these.

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