There are a lot of things changing in your body during menopause, including your hormones. The fluctuation in hormones around the time of menopause is comparative to the hormone fluctuations during puberty—except now you have all those pesky adult responsibilities you’re dealing with, too.

There’s a lot to cover when we are talking about the effect of menopause on your hormones (so much so that I have a few chapters in my book dedicated to it), but I’m going to outline the basics for you here.

The hormones at play

There are multiple different hormones that are affected by menopause, including serotonin, oxytocin, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone, testosterone, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and the big one: estrogen.

Estrogen decreases over time, starting in the perimenopausal phase. This decrease triggers the body to produce more FSH as a response. Hormones fluctuate drastically, and it is the sudden drops in estrogen that cause symptoms like hot flashes.

Measuring hormones

Getting your hormones checked is not the most effective way to confirm that you are menopausal. Since hormones fluctuate so much, they could look completely normal even when you are perimenopausal. Often, doctors check for elevated FSH levels to confirm menopause, but symptoms are the best indicators.

Estrogen deficiency

When you are in menopause, estrogen deficiency becomes more of a problem. Estrogen deficiency symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Low sex drive
  • Memory lapses
  • Inability to focus
  • Hot flashes

Be sure to talk openly with your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing so that they can better help you navigate your hormonal changes.

Treating the symptoms

Making changes to your diet and overall lifestyle can be pretty influential in treating your hormone imbalances and fluctuations. This includes adding healthy foods, exercise, and joy into your daily life, and staying away from unhealthy, inflammatory foods, sugar, and stress, which can worsen the symptoms. For more ideas on diet and lifestyle changes, check out my previous blog post on beating the menopause blues.

The best way to get a handle on your hormones is to know your body, be aware of the symptoms, and as mentioned earlier, be honest with your doctor. Try not to dismiss persistent irritability or memory loss as a general sign of old age, know what’s “normal” for you (and what’s not), and most importantly, try to enjoy this time in your life. It can be a truly transformative and spiritual time, and a great point in your life to remind yourself to live as fully as possible!

There’s a lot to know about hormones, menopause, and yourself. Check out my upcoming book, The Menopause Myth, and visit my website to learn more about women’s health and treatments available.