More than one third of the women in the United
States, about 36 million, have been through menopause. With a life expectancy of
about 81 years, a 50-year old woman can expect to live more than one third of her life in
How Does Menopause Happen?
Ovaries contain structures called follicles that hold egg cells. Women are
born with about 2 million egg cells and by puberty there are only about 300,000 left. Only
about 400 to 500 eggs ever mature fully enough to be released during a menstrual cycle -
the rest degenerate over the years.
During a woman's reproductive years, the pituitary
gland releases a hormone that causes a new egg to be released from the follicle every
month. The follicle also causes estrogen and progesterone levels to increase, which
thickens the lining of the uterus. This thickened lining is
prepared to receive and nourish a fertilized egg if conception occurs. If
fertilization of the egg does not happen, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, the
lining of the uterus breaks down and menstruation occurs.
Before the mid-thirties, the ovaries begin to
decline in hormone production. In the late forties, the process accelerates and
hormones fluctuate more, causing irregular menstrual periods and unpredictable episodes of
heavy bleeding. By the early to mid-fifties, periods end.
However, estrogen production does not completely
stop and the ovaries continue to produce smaller amounts of estrogen. The adrenal glands
(near the kidneys) and fat tissue also continue to make estrogen.
Progesterone, the other female hormone, that works
during the second half of the menstrual cycle to create a lining in the uterus, decreases
as well. If a woman skips a period it may be because her body is not producing enough
progesterone to break down the uterine lining. This is another one of the early signs of
This missed period phenomenon can also happen
during times of stress. In Holistic Health we consider that the stress hormones such
as cortisol, require so much from the body that other hormonal systems have to
"pay" for it. Repeated bouts of unresolved stress take their toll on women -
severe PMS, cramping, and eventually some very uncomfortable menopausal symptoms related
to this hormonal imbalance.
Flashes Appear to Be The Direct Result of Decreasing Estrogen Levels
In response to
falling estrogen levels, your glands release higher amounts of other hormones ( again, as
"payment") that affect the brain's thermostat, causing body temperature to
fluctuate. Holistic Health sees hot flashes, fatigue and night sweats as a symptom of
"hormonal imbalance", and are not necessarily a normal part of menopause.
Be sure to read about
as an herbal alternative to this issue of "hormonal imbalance".
Oh, yes - such a thing exists! "Male
Menopause" and it's treatment with testosterone was first described in the United
States sixty years ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA,
1938,112:1441). Dr. August Werner gave an accurate account of the "Male
Climacteric" as it was then called. Six years later, in another JAMA article, a large
group of men with identical symptoms were reported. That article provided evidence that
this "male menopause" was a true hormone disturbance due to insufficient
testosterone. They did blind controlled studies to show how the symptoms, including
erection problems, responded to testosterone but not to placebo injections.
About Male Menopause
Currently "male menopause" is gaining
momentum as an issue. Having been overshadowed by female menopause issues for so many
years some doctors are finally beginning to identify some of the life changes associated
with male menopause and the decline of hormones. Some of these changes are: job related
stressors (fewer jobs available to older men) and parents getting
the adaptogen herb from
Peru, is an herb being used successfully by men who are experiencing the symptoms of male
menopause, erectile dysfunction (E.D.).
read more about