Oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone

Women produce a number of different sex hormones including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. After the menopause, either naturally or surgically, these hormones will begin to diminish in quantity – some more quickly than others. It is this reduction which causes most of the menopausal symptoms that women can experience.

OESTROGEN is a powerful female sex hormone that regulates many aspects of our lives. Initially it makes girls develop into women at puberty by stimulating breast growth, laying down fatty deposits, thickening the vagina and causing it to secrete mucous. It affects how our skin looks, whether our bones are strong and healthy and it can protect us against heart disease. It also regulates our menstrual cycle. At the beginning of our cycle about 30 egg follicles will start to ripen and produce oestrogen. When levels of oestrogen in the blood are highest the hypothalamus in the brain release hormones that make a follicle release an egg, therefore if you are not producing enough oestrogen you will not ovulate. It is produced by the ovaries and naturally declines after the woman goes through the menopause.

PROGESTERONE is one of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. It plays an important role in maintaining a pregnancy. As well as helping to sustain pregnancy it also regulates the monthly menstrual cycle.

Its most important function is to encourage the endometrium to secrete proteins in the second half of the menstrual cycle in preparation for a fertilised egg. If no egg is fertilised or implanted then oestrogen and progesterone levels fall and the endometrium breaks down and is passed out through the body through your period bleed.

High levels of progesterone are thought to be responsible for symptoms of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). These can include breast tenderness, bloat and mood swings.

There is some debate whether a woman who has had a hysterectomy that removes her ovaries needs to supplement with progestrone as well as oestrogen. The feeling is that it might balance any oestrogen supplements and prevent women from becoming oestrogen dominant, which is what may have caused problems in the first place. However the adrenal glands continue to produce small amounts of progesterone and we also produce some from dietary cholesterol. In most women this will be enough to prevent oestrogen dominance.

TESTOSTERONE is a male hormone but women still produce small amounts of it in their ovaries. Testosterone is produced by the ovaries and helps to regulate sex drive (libido), energy and mental state. Following a natural menopause testosterone will continue to be produced by the ovaries in significant amounts for approximately twelve years, therefore a woman that has her ovaries removed will no longer produce testosterone and this may be responsible for a poor libido, depression and lack of energy following surgery.

Testosterone may also have a role to play in conserving bone after menopause and supplementation with it may be more suitable for women that are unable to take oestrogen who have an increased risk of osteoporosis. However testosterone should not be taken orally, in the form of tablets as it can damage the liver. The usual form of administration is by implant or by injection at regular intervals.

Recommended Reading:

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28 thoughts on “Oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone

  1. Hi. I am a 60yr old lady and my doctor has put me on vagifem. After reading the side effects it has made me very weary about using it. I had a full hysterectomy at 42 and I have gone through the menopause without any HRT. I now have a symptomatic prolapse . I’ve already had 1 lot of surgery and didn’t want to go through it again so hence my doctor said vagifem would help my symptoms. My question is, is there anyone else using vagifem and how are you getting on with it.

  2. I am 36 and had a total hysterectomy at 31. I have been on 1mg of estradiol once per day and that was upped to twice per day after the first year because of insane hot flashes with sweating that literally soaks me. I still get the sweating but not quite a often. Still way more than normal people. I had the hysterectomy after years of painful and irregular periods, 7 miscarriages, and 3 very difficult high risk pregnancies. I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 16 and told in would most likely never carry a pregnancy full term. I did but with 3 high risk pregnancies, one still birth at 6 months,one emergency c section, and 7 miscarriages in 10 years, I put my body through hell. I had my tube tides at 27 with my c section and then had one year of normal regular periods. A year later tI’ll my c section at 31 I bled heavy for 3 out of 4 weeks a month and became highly anemic. After the biopsy after the total hysterectomy in was told I did not have endometriosis and that all my reproductive organs were healthy. Since about 6 months after the hysterectomy I have had several very strange symptoms and been diagnosed with Lupus, inflammatory arthritis, fibromyalgia, and have had several issues medically since. My most recent issue is dark patches on my face that have something to do with hormone levels in the body. I can’t think of the name right now.I wonder if all my problems all along have had to do with hormone levels in my body. All I know is that I turned 36 this week and I feel 86. I wonder sometimes if I will live to see grandchildren or my fiance retire. It took several doctors and almost 2 years to get any diagnosis or answers that I have gotten. I went from skinny, very active, on the go person to in pain constantly, overweight, exhausted, miserable, sick mess.

    1. Hi look into dhae and read metabolic anti ageing plan Stephen cherniske. I am older but felt similar after total hysterectomy and this gave me back good energy levels and got rid of most joint pain I did not have fibromyalgia but my joints particularly shoulders were painfull and I had artheritis in other joints and my feet ached constantly.Worse was the inability to finish tasks I hope you get better I will think of you

    2. Take natural progesterone cream, I use wellsprings, it’s brilliant. Use it as a moisturiser, I gaurantee you will feel better in a couple of months. Yes, it does take time to kick in but I have been through this too, I looked ten years older, ached and so depressed. People without ovaries DO need progesterone, forget what the doctors say.

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