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menopause

Symptoms Associated with Female Aging

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Hot flashes and night sweats are most frequently caused by fluctuations in your estrogen levels. Estrogen has a direct effect on your hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls your temperature regulation. Diminished natural estrogen levels trick the brain into believing the body is too hot, thus creating a hot flash even though heat is absent. Waking up feeling either too hot or too cold is a frequent result of night sweats. These are the two most commonly reported symptoms of hormonal imbalance.

Low Libido

Symptoms, including dryness, itching, and discharge frequently result in decreased libido. This is frequently a protective effect from your body. If intercourse is uncomfortable as a result of vaginal symptoms, it is a natural response for you to want to avoid painful and uncomfortable situations. Correction of the underlying problem will help to heal the vagina. It is a common finding that once the vagina is healed, libido will spontaneously return. Low estrogen levels are the most common cause of most vaginal symptoms including incontinence which may occur due to the thinning and drying of the vaginal wall. A physical exam by your physician is a great place to begin this evaluation. Topical estrogen creams can frequently resolve these symptoms.

Mood Swings

Estrogen levels affect the amount of serotonin produced in the body. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of mood. Fluctuations in estrogen levels will cause serotonin along with other major neurotransmitters within the brain to become imbalanced - therefore leading to mood swings, increased irritability, or depression. Using bioidentical estrogen hormones can regulate your mood to help you live life in balance.

Irregular Bleeding

Irregular menstrual periods are usually the result of hormonal signals that have been thrown out of sync. In order to produce a period, your body makes hormones, including estrogen and progesterone that regulate the build-up of the lining of the uterus, which is then shed during menstruation. When signals between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries get crossed or skipped, the result is irregular or prolonged periods. Many menstrual problems may also be caused by undiagnosed thyroid conditions that may decrease, disrupt, or stop menstrual cycles all together.

Breast Tenderness

The most common cause of breast tenderness during menopause is hormonal imbalance. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels vary in different ways. Normally, when estrogen is down and progesterone is up, breasts get bigger in size. But, hormonal imbalance can alter this cycle, making breasts even bigger and more susceptible to pain, and for more prolonged periods. Therefore, when hormones are not balanced and estrogen levels decrease more than progesterone, the end result is breast tenderness during menopause.

Sagging Skin

We all know what happens to the skin when a woman gets older. Her skin becomes thinner, looser, drier, duller and develops wrinkles. Some of these effects are due to a lifetime of sun damage and other environmental factors, but others are connected to the decrease in estrogen. As a woman ages, the resultant hormonal imbalance only accelerates the deterioration of her skin. Thankfully, it is possible to take preventative steps to maintain your estrogen levels using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in order to avoid the further depletion.

Skin cells contain estrogen receptors that standby for instructions from the estrogen on how to grow and function. In the absence of the necessary estrogen to direct the skin cells, they exhibit an array of weaknesses. A few common examples are a decrease in collagen which is the support structure in the skin. The loss of collagen attributes to the sagging or loose property of the skin. There is also a decrease in the skin’s glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s) that “plump” the skin. Also associated with a depletion of estrogen is a decrease in dermal thickness, elasticity, moisture and skin strength. Thin and weakened skin is also more susceptible to trauma and the ability to heal properly. Unhealthy skin could cause a decrease in scalp hair and an increase in unwanted facial hair. These serious symptoms are not a necessary part of aging.

If you exhibit any of these symptoms, the first step is check your hormonal levels to determine whether or not there is an imbalance. Estrogen replacement therapy can prevent many of the unnecessary skin symptoms associated with aging and/ or menopause.