Our bodies and the functions of our organs change as we age. Although some changes are influenced by one’s overall health, others are natural and bound to occur with time. This article talks about hormones and how they change in women as they age.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals that deliver messages to different organs of the body. They control most aspects of life like digestion, stress, sleep, reproduction, metabolism and energy levels. They carry signals from the brain through the blood to the intended organ, skin, muscle or tissues. As such, your body does what it is instructed to do.
But for hormones to function properly, they need to be balanced. However, sometimes they are too high or too low. Hormonal issues can happen to anyone regardless of age and can lead to serious health issues. But it is normal for hormone production to change as we age.
Overview of How Hormones Change as We Age
Estrogen and progesterone levels are usually at their peak in the mid-twenties for most people. These hormones are crucial for female reproduction and sexual development. They regulate the menstrual cycle and help maintain pregnancy.
When a woman is in her mid-thirties, the levels of these hormones start declining naturally, which is indicated by a change in one’s menstrual cycle. One may start experiencing ‘perimenopause’ in their mid or late forties when these hormones’ levels can be unpredictable. At 50 years old, estrogen level declines rapidly, leading to a stop of menses for most women.
However, note that women and people with a uterus, experience changes in the balance of hormones during menstruation, pregnancy, puberty, menopause and breastfeeding. Hormonal imbalance is when there is too much or too little of a particular hormone in your body. When this happens, one may experience weight gain, pain during sex, vaginal dryness, irritability, infertility, digestive issues, irregular menstruation, etc.
How Does Hormonal Imbalance Affect a Person?
When estrogen and progesterone levels begin to decline, doctors refer to this phase as menopause. The changes in these hormones can significantly affect your mental and physical health. While hormonal imbalances are common in pregnancy, breastfeeding, and puberty, many women suffer from hormonal issues caused by other factors.
Some symptoms you may experience when your hormones are not balanced include:
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Low sex drive and pain during sex
- Acne or darkening of the skin
- Excess hair, especially when you have high levels of testosterone
Hormonal fluctuations that result from aging can cause significant changes in your mood, menstrual patterns and weight. However, these changes can also be caused by thyroid disease, which affects people of all ages.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland found at the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control body temperature, metabolism, muscle strength and other body processes.
Doctors usually advise individuals over 60 and those exhibiting thyroid disease symptoms to get tested. Treatments offered may treat an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Ways to Combat Hormonal Imbalance
It is normal for hormones to deplete as we age. But some women experience hormonal imbalances even when they are not close to the perimenopause age. The best thing to do is to see a doctor if you suspect your hormones are not balanced. They can do a simple blood test to diagnose this problem and offer the needed intervention. Besides that, here are other things you can do to help balance your hormones:
Eat healthy fats: our bodies need healthy fats to create hormones. So, consider eating salmon instead of chicken and add avocado to your salad. Healthy fats are the building blocks for the production of hormones. Plus, they prevent inflammation and improve your metabolism, contributing to weight loss.
Add supplements to your diet: most women focus on anti-aging supplements as they age. But besides these, also consider vitamin D, probiotics, peptides, and primrose oil supplements. These are said to help your body produce hormones in the needed amounts.
Adequate sleep: sleep is important to your overall health. No wonder experts recommended 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Your hormones can easily become imbalanced if you don’t get enough sleep. So give your body adequate time to recharge every night.
Consider hormone replacement therapy: the above measures can prolong your health and the natural function of your body. But, sometimes, you will need medical intervention. Nowadays, doctors recommend bioidentical hormones to maintain the quality and level of hormones as a person ages. These hormones are identical to the human hormones you have in your body. So, your system treats and processes them the same way with hormones your body naturally produces.
While hormones play a crucial role in women’s health, various things can affect their balance. Aging is one of the culprits, which is unfortunately unavoidable. Thankfully, several treatments can help balance the hormones and keep your health in check. Please do not ignore symptoms of hormonal imbalance, as if left untreated, the condition can have serious effects.