What are hormones?
Hormones are molecules produced by the endocrine system (a collection of glands located across your various bodily systems) that send messages to various parts of the body and are transported by the circulatory system.
What is the purpose of hormones in your body?
Hormones control and coordinate your bodily activities such as your mood, growth, metabolism, appetite, temperature, as well as sexual desire. While hormones are essential to reproduction, they are fundamental to all the systems of your body.
What is a hormonal imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances occur when there is too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Due to the fact that your hormones are essential for your body, even small imbalances can cause widespread side effects throughout your various systems. This can lead to problems like diabetes, weight gain or loss, infertility, weak bones, and other health conditions.
How is this related to menopause?
The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 60. Your ovaries are the source of estrogen and progesterone, the two key hormones that control the reproductive system, including the menstrual cycle and fertility in women. When you are born, you have all the eggs you will ever have. The eggs are located within the follicles, which are found in the ovaries.
During menopause, the number of ovarian follicles declines and the ovaries become less responsive to the two other hormones involved in reproduction—Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). As you age, you release fewer FSH and LH hormones, which causes them to slow down and have difficulty regulating the other hormones: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. During menopause, these changes in your hormone production can significantly affect your health for years to come.
Aging isn’t the only factor in what triggers menopause. A hysterectomy or surgical removal of the ovaries, which produce hormones can induce. If you have surgery to remove your ovaries or uterus and are not taking hormones, you will experience the symptoms of menopause immediately and potentially more severely.
What you need to know about reproductive hormones?
Sex hormones are responsible for driving sexual development, including menstruation. The main reproductive hormones are oestrogen (estrogen) and testosterone.
Oestrogen causes eggs to mature in the ovaries once a girl hits puberty. These eggs are then released at regular intervals during the menstrual cycle. Testosterone is responsible for stimulating sperm production in males.
Other hormones involved in the menstrual cycle include:
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – causes the development and growth of an egg in the ovary.
- Luteinising hormone (LH) – stimulates the physical release of the egg.
- Progesterone and oestrogen – maintains, as well as regulates the uterine lining during different phases of your menstrual cycle.
When these reproductive hormones do not work as they should, fertility problems can occur and other uterine conditions can develop.
How do your hormones change over time?
The hypothalamus is located in the brain and regulates the number of hormones that are produced. The amount of these regulating hormones stays about the same; however, the response by the endocrine organs in your body can change as we age.
The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands located around the thyroid. Parathyroid hormone affects calcium and phosphate levels, which affect bone strength. Parathyroid hormone levels rise with age, which may contribute to osteoporosis.
Overall, some hormones decrease, some do not change, and some increase with age. Hormones that usually decrease include:
- Aldosterone – produced by the adrenal gland and is essential for sodium conservation in the kidney, salivary glands, colon, and sweat glands.
- Prolactin – hormone that regulates breast milk production.
- Renin – hormones within the kidneys.
- Estrogen – hormone that is responsible for reproduction.
- Calcitonin – produced by the thyroid gland and regulates calcium and phosphate levels.
- Growth Hormone – stimulates growth, cell regeneration, and cell reproduction. Also regulates body fluids, muscle and bone growth, as well as mental function.
In women going through menopause, estrogen and prolactin levels often decrease significantly compared to other hormones.
Hormones and uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow within the uterine cavity or wall. They tend to affect women primarily around the ages of 25-45. Although uterine fibroids are influenced by the production of estrogen, they can still develop during menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy can also encourage fibroids to grow since HRT typically contains a combination of both progesterone and estrogen. Women who takes HRT may experience severe symptoms, versus women who don’t take these medications. Doctors may prescribe these to women going through menopause to help avoid the uncomfortable symptoms such as:
- Hot flashes
- Irregular periods
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleep issues
- Mood fluctuations
- Reduced sex drivemenstruation, fibr
- Weight gain or slowed metabolism
As you age, estrogen deficiency can also pose serious health risks such bone health, which can increase your risk of fractures even after simple injuries. Adding these supplemental estrogens like HRT back into the body during menopause can help maintain your bone strength. However, if you are taking these it’s important not to discount symptoms that could be associated with uterine fibroids. These symptoms may include:
- Frequent urination
- Irregular periods
- Heavy, prolonged menstruation
- Fatigue caused by anemia
- Pain during sex
- Protruding abdomen or belly area
- Pelvic pain or cramps
- Lower back or leg pain
In addition, it’s also important to not ignore symptoms simply because you think they are “just a part of being a woman” or “just a sign of aging”. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to get checked for fibroids. Over time, fibroid symptoms can become debilitating and life-altering. Especially after menopause, it’s crucial to listen to your body and track changes in case you need to explain to your doctor.
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Find relief for fibroid symptoms
If you’re experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids it’s important to know that you have options when it comes to your treatment decision. If you want to avoid surgery and hospitalization, keep your uterus, as well as have a short recovery, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) may be a good choice for you. Talk to a fibroid specialist by calling 855.615.2555 and explore our website to learn more about nonsurgical fibroid treatment.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is covered by many insurances including Medicaid. Click the button below to schedule your appointment today.