What is the hormonal response to menopause?

Updated: Sep 13, 2021
  • Author: Nicole K Banks, MD; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
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The reproductive years of a woman’s life are regulated by production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries. Estrogen regulates a woman's monthly menstrual cycle and secondary sexual characteristics (eg, breast development and function). In addition, it prepares the body for fertilization and reproduction. Progesterone concentrations rise in a cyclical fashion to prepare the uterus for possible pregnancy and to prepare the breasts for lactation.

Toward the end of her reproductive years when a woman reaches menopause, circulating levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease because of reduced synthesis in the ovary. Hypoestrogenism during menopause can lead to several symptoms, the severity of which can vary widely.

Hormone therapy (HT) involves the administration of synthetic estrogen and progestogen. HT is designed to replace a woman's depleting hormone levels and thus alleviate her symptoms of menopause. However, HT has been linked to various risks, and debate regarding its risk-benefit ratio continues.

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