In the United States, there are more than 45 million women in some stage of menopause, and close to 4 million more women will experience menopausal symptoms this year. Menopause is defined as ovarian shutdown - no more estrogen or progesterone production by the ovaries.
Once a year goes by without menstrual bleeding, menopause is said to be present. In menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels are dramatically decreased (but are not completely gone). Incredibly, the peri-menopausal period can start up to 15 years before actual menopause is seen.
It is clear that hormones play a crucial role in physiologic processes that maintain health and wellness
(homeostasis). Hormones are proteins that are produced by endocrine organs such as the pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, testes, and ovary. Imbalances
in the true end-organ sex hormones - estrogen, progesterone and testosterone very often leads to rather distressing symptoms and disease.
may include hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, bloating, hair loss, memory problems, sexual indifference and many more. Diseases
include osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. As an example, it has been shown that susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, which dramatically increases with menopause, is significantly reduced with proper hormonal balancing.
Estrogen is made in the ovaries, but is also made in the corpus luteum, adrenal glands, and fat cells. Once the ovaries stop producing estrogen on a regular basis, the adrenal glands become the main source of estrogen (primarily as E1). Estrogen is actually available in 3 forms - estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). The production of the various forms of estrogen, and estrogen metabolism depends on patient age, cycle, genetics, and other factors. Suffice it to say that the various estrogens have different potencies and effects.