For many women, aging brings about the body, weight, and mood changes. If you’re a woman over 40, you may notice changes in your physiology and emotional well-being. What are these changes, and what is likely causing them? Let’s find out.
Changes in physical health and emotional well-being in women over 40 are often caused by fluctuating female hormone levels, namely estrogen and progesterone. This change in body chemistry can affect weight, mood, sex drive, and energy levels. Hormone tests can help determine if a woman’s hormone levels are normal.
How and why do these hormonal fluctuations affect women, and what can be done to test for healthy hormone levels? Read more to find out how hormone fluctuation in middle-aged women can affect health and what you can do about it.
How Menopause Affects Hormone Levels
As women begin to enter their 40s, they may start to go through menopause. Menopause marks the beginning of the female body winding down from being able to bear children to be beyond the age of childbearing. In essence, monthly periods cease.
This process can take several years, and once menopause is over, your body will no longer be able to bear children. The process involves three stages:
- Perimenopause. This stage describes the years leading up to the cessation of monthly periods. The ovaries will begin to produce less estrogen in this stage. It can last as long as ten years and often involves irregular periods, weight gain, and hormonal imbalance.
- Menopause. Menopause is when a woman’s ovaries have wholly stopped releasing eggs, and she can no longer become pregnant. Hormonal changes are widespread in this stage, too.
- Postmenopause. This is the period in a woman’s life when she has gone more than 12 months without a period. Hormonal changes have abated mainly at this stage, which will last for the rest of the woman’s life.
This process can look different for many women but includes changes in the menstrual cycle and hormone levels and often includes hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and mood swings.
Estrogen Levels Affect Health
Estrogen is the female hormone produced by the ovaries. During youth and middle age, the ovaries release ample amounts of estrogen, and the reproductive system is functioning as it should.
As menopause begins, the ovaries will start to release less and less estrogen over a period of years. Lower estrogen levels are linked to lower sex drive, pain during intercourse, and hot flashes.
In addition, you may experience trouble concentrating, dry skin, weight gain, irritability, and fatigue as estrogen levels diminish. Bone density may also decrease, leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of bone fracturing.
Progesterone Levels Affect Health, Too
Progesterone is another hormone that affects a woman’s health and well-being as she ages. Produced in the ovaries, progesterone also keeps the woman’s reproductive system running in a balanced and healthy way.
Low progesterone levels are linked to irregular periods, headaches, and mood changes. A woman may also experience higher levels of sadness or anxiety if her progesterone levels are low. The gradual decrease in progesterone levels is also a normal part of perimenopause and menopause.
Hormone Level Testing Can Help
So how do you know if you’re experiencing abnormally low levels of female hormones? A blood test for hormone levels can help you determine if you’re experiencing low than usual levels of female hormones as you age.
Hormone level blood testing can help :
- Identify low levels of female hormones in your system
- Determine if low female hormone levels are causing your pre-existing health problems
- Determine if you’re a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy as a perimenopausal or menopausal woman
A simple clinical blood test can help measure all of the above and determine if lower hormone levels are causing your changes in overall wellness.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Can Help Soften Menopause
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) allows women to regulate and balance hormone levels. Female hormones can be administered to a perimenopausal or menopausal woman through creams, injections, or pills.
This extra estrogen boost can help the body experience fewer issues associated with menopause. It can help mitigate mood swings, hot flashes, and can help restore some of a woman’s lost sex drive. You’ll still go through menopause but may have less of a tough time with the physical and emotional changes of natural aging.
Exercise, Eating Well, and Self-Care Can Help, Too
Hormone replacement therapy can be a great help to women experiencing menopausal symptoms. It’s also essential as you age to take good care of the rest of yourself.
As your body ages naturally, ensure that you eat a balanced diet high in healthy whole foods and low in sugar and artificial components. Make sure you’re getting outside and staying active. Even low-impact exercise like walking can help you stay physically and emotionally healthy.
Take care of your emotional well-being and take time out to enjoy relaxing and meaningful activities such as gardening, spending quality time with a pet, reading, friends, or the arts.
As a woman ages, natural female hormone levels will begin to wane in preparation for a cessation of monthly periods. This process is called menopause, and can result in physical and emotional changes for women over 40, including weight gain, increased emotional volatility, hot flashes, and trouble concentrating.
A simple blood test to determine hormone levels can help you understand if your changing body or mood results from hormone imbalance and if you might be a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy. In addition to hormone therapy, taking good care of your body and mind can help alleviate menopausal symptoms.
If you undergo hormone replacement therapy, expect to have regular doses of estrogen administered, which may help you feel better during your menopause process. Are you concerned about your hormone levels and want to address menopausal symptoms? Contact EVOLVE patient care for a free consultation!