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What hormone changes occur during the menopause?

The menopausal transition is associated with significant changes in the levels of female reproductive hormones.

Sadly, the menopause marks the end of the female’s reproductive life and occurs after her final period. At this stage all of her ovarian follicles will have been depleted. These follicles contain the eggs needed to reproduce and their loss causes a decline in the production of the reproductive hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

hormones involved in the menopause

Oestrogen

Oestrogen is considered the primary female reproductive hormone and is involved in the initial growth and health of the female reproductive organs as well as helping to keep the vagina moist and elastic.

As part of the menstrual cycle, oestrogen stimulates the development and release of an egg from the ovary, a process called ovulation and it also helps to thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation for a fertilised egg to implant and develop into a foetus.

Progesterone

Progesterone is another important hormone in the female menstrual cycle and is released by the structure left behind after an egg is released by the ovary called a corpus luteum. The progesterone released from the corpus luteum helps the body prepare for pregnancy. If the egg is unfertilised, the corpus luteum breaks down and progesterone levels fall as do oestrogen levels, allowing a new menstrual cycle to begin.

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone

The secretion of oestrogen and progesterone is controlled by the hormones follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH).

When the ovarian follicles have been depleted at the time of the menopause and ovulation no longer occurs, these hormones continue to rise as there are fewer or no follicles responding to them and producing oestrogen.

Therefore, the prolonged increase in FSH and LH and the reduction in oestrogen production is responsible for many of the symptoms associated with the menopause.

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