Learning September 09, 2019

Hormones 101

Another big challenge for women as they approach menopause is the lack of education about the fundamentals of our hormones. Yes, we all learned about menstruation when we were young and we have lived it monthly from our mid-teens onward. But unless we had a serious medical concern, we mostly just went along for the ride. And now, as menopause approaches, understanding our hormones becomes much more important. Critical, even. Understanding fosters self-awareness, the foundation making the best choices as symptoms arise.

Getting back to basics. The menstrual comprises two phases - the follicular phase (from the start of bleeding to ovulation) and the luteal phase (from ovulation until the start of the next cycle) and that estrogen production occurs in follicular phase and progesterone in the luteal phase.

The next level is understanding Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone which are produced in the pituitary gland and are the hormones that signal or trigger estrogen and progesterone, respectively to be products in the reproductive organs. Follicle Stimulating Hormone helps the follicles in the ovaries produce an egg for ovulation. One sign of perimenopause is increasing FSH indicating the need for stronger stimulation to produce a viable egg for ovulation. This a reason why FSH testing is often used to assess perimenopause status. However, a single test isn’t very informative. Being able to compare a test to prior levels would be better.

If you have 15 minutes, watch this. Straightforward, informative and cool graphics.

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