This is your brain on menopause…

December 28, 2010

When a woman is in her 20’s and 30’s, she relies on a delicate balance of hormones to maintain her youthful curves and physique. When these hormones begin to decline, as they do in the months and years leading up to menopause, it’s common for women to notice some changes, such as fluctuations in weight and changes in skin texture. And as if being blindsided by hot flashes and night sweats wasn’t enough, in addition to the physical changes taking place, psychological and emotional factors are also at work.

So what exactly happens to the brain during menopause? Basically the body goes into ovarian failure and the ovaries struggle to produce enough estrogen. Some days they produce too much and some days not enough. Hormone receptors are found throughout the body, including the brain. Hormonal imbalances, such as fluctuating levels of estrogen, can disrupt biochemical brain activity, which controls the production of mood-regulating neurochemicals, including serotonin and endorphins.  The end result: An emotional roller coaster, characterized by depression, mood swings, temper tantrums and unprovoked crying spells.

Unfortunately, there is no way to determine if a mood disturbance is brought on by menopause or any other medical condition for that matter, without a proper evaluation. The best way to determine if the way you’re feeling is related to your hormones is to have your hormone levels assessed by a hormones specialist. While there isn’t a hormone dipstick you can check to see if you’re balanced, hormone testing using blood and saliva is a surefire way to determine where your hormone levels are at and help you figure out a treatment plan that suits you best.

Put your symptoms to the test!

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