Published: 11/22/2013 - Updated: 06/10/2016
Hormones are the product of the secretion of certain glands and are transported by the bloodstream. They exert different functions, such as to encourage, inhibit or regulate the functioning of organs and other systems in the body.
Human beings suffer hormonal changes during different stages of life, perhaps one of the most notorious stages is probably adolescence where women experience changes in their body and begin menstruating.
Those responsible for these changes are hormones and in this case, specifically estrogen: Hormones that regulate sexual appetite and keep your bones healthy and strong. However, hormone levels may decline as the years pass.
There is another female hormone called progesterone, whose function is to prepare the uterus for fertilization and also promotes an increase in the size of the breasts before menstruation and during pregnancy.
Prolactin is produced in the anterior pituitary gland, and is known as the "milk hormone", since it is responsible for stimulating pregnant or nursing women's milk production.
The pituitary gland produces stimulating follicle hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), whose function is to stimulate ovarian follicles to promote egg maturation and estrogen secretion.
Testosterone, contrary to popular belief, is not exclusive to men. In women it helps control body muscle mass and sex drive.
Last but not least is oxytocin, a hormone that induces labour and delivery and is responsible for the movements of the uterus, as well as pleasurable movements characteristic of orgasm. This hormone is also known as "the molecule of love", as it gives happiness and feelings of being in love during the first days of a relationship.
Hormones cause changes in the body, however sometimes they can cause symptoms that are annoying.
Menopause is derived from the Greek words "less" meaning menstruation, and "pausis" meaning ceasing. This is a natural stage in which women stop menstruating.
It usually occurs around age 50, but it has been known to present early, sometimes before forty. Some causes of early menopause are malnutrition, a low birth weight, smoking, hysterectomy (removal of the uterus or womb) or by ligation of the fallopian tubes.
It can also occur after 55 years due to being overweight, uterine fibroids and diabetes mellitus.
With the onset of the menopause, women usually present symptoms such as hot flushes, depression, urinary incontinence, recurrent cystitis, sweating, hypertension, fatigue, frigidity, insomnia, joint pain and hemorrhoids, among others. Approximately 75% of women exhibit at least some of these symptoms.
Options to combat these symptoms
Fortunately there are several options at hand that can help combat the symptoms associated with menopause.
Hormonal Therapy: It is the most common treatment, generally using estrogen, progesterone and sometimes testosterone to treat the symptoms that usually occur with menopause. Among its benefits is that it provides quick relief from the uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flushes, anxiety, osteoporosis and vaginal dryness. However, it also has its drawbacks: predisposition to headaches, heart disease, nausea and breast tenderness.
Acupuncture is a natural choice, which promotes the body's adaptation to hormonal changes. It is also useful to control anxiety and reduce stress.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E supplementation helps to keep the skin hydrated, combats dryness and even improves vaginal dryness.
Phytohormones: These are substances that are produced by some plant species, which are highly recommended in menopause as they help keep skin hydrated and hair in good condition. These substances are found in foods such as garlic, oats, rice, sweet potatoes and soybeans.