Estrogen is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. There are three types of estrogen found in a female’s body, estrone, estradiol and estriol. The levels of all of these hormones fall dramatically at the onset of menopause. Symptoms characteristic of menopause are hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, bladder problems, difficulty concentrating and anxiety. With time, many of these symptoms diminish. Unfortunately, the disease processes, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s only increase in the absence of estrogen.
The rapid bone loss after menopause has been attributed to the decline in the production of estrogen, which is essential for bone growth. In addition the loss of estrogen results in the development of heart disease, which is the number one killer of women. Postmenopausal women on estrogen have a 70% decrease in mortality from heart disease. Estrogen has also been shown to lower total blood cholesterol and raises HDL, the good cholesterol. Not only does estrogen protect vessels of the heart, it also protects vessels of the brain and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands and functions to balance the effects of estrogen. Natural progesterone enhances the action of estrogen as these two hormones work together to maintain normal hormonal balance. The lack of progesterone can contribute to age related illnesses, which includes osteoporosis, heart disease, decreased libido and a diminished quality of life. The combination and balance of natural progesterone and estrogen can help women maintain their vitality and overall well being into the next half of their lives.
The ovaries begin producing progesterone in around puberty. The monthly ebb and flow of this hormone, in harmony with estrogen and other hormones continues until menopause. Progesterone’s primary role during this time is to help prepare the uterus for implantation of a new embryo, the first major event – after fertilization of the egg – in the 9 months of human gestation. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone production temporarily ceases, and the uterus sheds its endometrial lining.
Testosterone is an essential part of Natural Hormone Replacement Programs. It is the third major female hormone, after Estrogen and Progesterone. Testosterone is very important for strength, energy and libido. It is an important female hormone which is secreted by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Female ovaries produce a small amount that goes a long way.
Testosterone improves a woman’s libido and works synergistically to enhance the functions of estrogen and progesterone. When women notice their skin is not quite as tight as it used to be, this is a sure sign of declining Testosterone. Skin tone is affected as the muscles beneath lose their firmness, strength and size.
Testosterone is also essential in strengthening bones in preventing osteoporosis. Like other hormones, testosterone levels peak at about the age of twenty-five and then slowly decline. Symptoms appear as a gradual decrease in energy and stamina, thinning bones and muscles, increased visceral fat, depression, and impaired sexual function.
Testosterone deficiency has also been linked to hypertension, obesity and increased risk of heart disease. Stress level may also play a role in declining testosterone levels.
Dehydroepiandrosterone, a steroid hormone is a natural substance produced in the adrenal glands, gonads and brain. The mean concentration of DHEA in serum decreases progressively from a peak at age 25 to less than 20% of that peak before the age of 70. Further serum levels are typically low in those with chronic diseases, such as cancer and AIDS, and heart disease as well.
DHEA is metabolized in the adrenal glands to other substances including androstenedione, testosterone estrone and estradiol. Some of the reported effects may be due to the fact that is metabolized to androgens and estrogens. The observed benefits of DHEA in post-menopausal women, for example may be accounted for by this androgenic activity. DHEA is absorbed from the small intestine and transported to the liver where it is metabolized and distributed to the various tissues where metabolites are synthesized.
Melatonin is produced naturally in the female body by the pineal gland. The levels are higher at night, are suppressed by bright light, and decline as women age. Melatonin manages the circadian rhythms or inner clock by lowering body temperature, which, in turn, controls our sleep/wake cycle. For years, melatonin, has been a popular treatment for jet lag and insomnia. By using melatonin as a supplement, the sleep/wake cycle can be adjusted to allow quality rest at night and optimal function during the day.
Melatonin is derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan. When tryptophan is consumed through the foods we eat, it is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then broken down further into melatonin at night. Light suppresses the release of melatonin, while dimming light transferred through the eyes into the pineal gland stimulates the release of more melatonin into the blood stream.
Thyroid hormone is a metabolic hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. There are two types of thyroid hormones, Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). T4 is inactive and kept in reserve, T3 is the active hormone. Thyroid hormones control the growth differentiation and metabolism of each cell in the body. They also control how fast our body uses the fuel that we consume, particularly carbohydrates and fat. This in turn helps to regulate our temperature and body fat percentage. The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are produced in the thyroid gland. About 80% of the thyroid hormones we produce is T4, the inactive thyroid hormone that is typically held in reserve by the body. T3 makes up only 20% of the thyroid hormone, but is about four times more potent than T4 and is the active hormone that the body uses to function. T4 is converted into T3 when thyroid hormone is needed.
The release of the thyroid hormones is controlled by the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced in the pituitary gland. Low circulating levels of thyroid hormone are detected by the hypothalamus, which then instructs the pituitary gland to release TSH. When sufficient amounts are released the hypothalamus communicates with the pituitary to stop or slow down. Because of this complicated feedback loop, high levels of TSH in the blood often means the pituitary is trying to stimulate production of the thyroid hormone but the thyroid gland is not responding. This condition known as hypothroidism is more common in women and the elderly.