Women going through menopause certainly feel their symptoms, but understanding them is a different story. Hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods - it can all seem random and uncalled for. But for the vast majority of menopausal symptoms, the culprit is usually hormonal imbalance.
As one of the most important female hormones, imbalances of progesterone play a central role in the unpleasant symptoms most women feel during menopause. That is why understanding progesterone - and how to keep it balanced - is so important in relieving some of your worst symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about the role progesterone has during menopause.
What Is Progesterone?
Affecting everything from sexual health to bone structure, progesterone plays a key role in a wide swath of bodily functions, but is especially important in pregnancy and menstruation. Levels of the hormone are lowest in young girls and post-menopausal women. For women going through menopause, progesterone often becomes unbalanced as production of the hormone begins to wind down. This leads to a host of symptoms like hot flashes, low libido, fatigue, and mood swings.
How Can You Tell When Progesterone Levels Are Low?
When progesterone levels begin to decline in the body during menopause, the symptoms are often immediate. You may start to notice frequent mood swings, breast tenderness, and a loss of sex drive. That said, symptoms will vary depending on your menopausal stage, with depression, hot flashes and irregular periods predominating in early to mid stages of menopause, and infertility and weight gain taking hold postmenopause.
If you are concerned about progesterone deficiency, undergoing a test will allow you to see if your levels are normal for your age group. Common tests include:
- Blood test - Simple and relatively pain free, with results usually available within 24 hours.
- Saliva test - A faster alternative to a blood test, a saliva test measures the progesterone not in use in the body.
Talk to your doctor if you feel that you need further testing of your progesterone levels.
How to Boost Your Progesterone
Though declining progesterone is a natural and inevitable part of aging and menopause, it is possible to improve your hormonal balance by reducing induced causes like stress and poor diet and exercise. Be sure to maintain a healthy diet, and take time in your day for activities that work your body and relieve stress. If lifestyle changes are not enough, consider herbal remedies, or talk to your doctor about your treatment options.