This hormone is also important for a woman’s health during and after menopause. As explained, progesterone influences your mood and protects against several serious health problems. Your menstrual cycle, skin, and breasts together with estrogen, progesterone regulate your menstrual cycle. Estrogen stimulates the uterine lining to grow while progesterone ensures that it sheds in monthly periods (if no conception occurs, that is).
If you’re familiar with hormone replacement therapy, you know that taking estrogen can increase your risk for uterine cancer, unless you also take progesterone (or another progesterone, that is a substance with a similar effect) to protect you against a potentially harmful build-up of tissue in the uterine lining.
One sign that your progesterone levels are too low during menopause is that you begin to have more painful menstrual periods, with uterine cramps. Low progesterone-to-estrogen ratios may in some cases be associated with a serious medical condition known as dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB), which is characterized by heavy, erratic bleeding. Progesterone doesn’t actually seem to play a direct role in preventing vaginal dryness or pain, despite the claims of some health professionals.
Progesterone prevents vaginal dryness and pain
When women take progesterone, their bodies convert some of it to estrogen, which does have a protective effect against vaginal dryness and pain. While estrogen makes women feel sexier, progesterone is likely to have the opposite effect. It tends to moderate the effects of estrogen and testosterone.
In fact, progesterone is given to sex offenders to decrease their sexual thoughts, desires, and satisfaction. This loss of libido may be accompanied by depression. This is why some women with low estrogen but adequate progesterone feel depressed and have decreased libido.
Progesterone increases your body’s metabolic rate and literally warms your body.
The higher metabolism and body temperature are accompanied by more blood flow to the skin, and an increased ability to sweat and lose the extra heat through the skin. Although it is under debate, progesterone’s effects on the skin may be partly responsible for hot flashes. Also, this is why some women who experience low progesterone menopause types have cool skin.
If your progesterone levels fall too far during menopause, you can feel anxious and irritable, have trouble sleeping, or suffer from feelings of confusion, depression, or mood swings. These feelings can become exhausting if the imbalance goes on too long. A drop in your progesterone level can actually cause you to go through symptoms that are similar to those experienced in withdrawal from sedatives or alcohol. Progesterone is also involved in the regulation of appetite.
Low progesterone menopause
Types can have a decreased appetite. Your bones, although its effects are not as well-known as estrogen, progesterone protects against osteoporosis. Like estrogen, progesterone protects bone, but in a different way. Estrogen restricts the breakdown of old bone cells while progesterone stimulates the growth of new ones.
Some animal studies suggest that high progesterone levels are able to maintain or increase bone formation even when there is low estrogen. However, other researchers have found that progesterone alone does not have a positive effect on bone mineral density and bone volume, two measures of bone strength and health. There is also evidence that estrogen enhances progesterone’s bone-building power.
The “male” hormones that are related to sex drive, muscle strength, and vaginal health; are also converted to estrogen by our fat cells. Just as we usually think of testosterone as a “male” sex hormone, but every woman has it, too.
You need testosterone for the proper function of the brain, heart, bones, and many other tissues.
After menopause, your testosterone levels may remain adequate to your needs, but if the hormonal changes don’t go smoothly you may end up with too much or too little. When it comes to testosterone, the adrenal glands do not appear to be equipped to make up for a total loss of ovarian testosterone (some ovarian testosterone is usually needed. But if the adrenal glands produce a lot of androstenedione, the building block (precursor) from which both testosterone and estrogen are made the result may be too high a level of testosterone in the body.
There is growing evidence that testosterone is the most important hormone for maintaining sex drive in women, just as it is in men. Before, during, and after menopause, testosterone boosts a woman’s libido.
Too little testosterone
Can leave a woman feeling uninterested in sex. Too much can make her feel edgy and aggressive, even if her level of desire is just fine. Testosterone also has important effects on the vagina and vulva. The vaginal and vulvar atrophy that can occur with menopause are often at least partly caused by testosterone deficiency. Like estrogen, testosterone directly affects the tissue of the vagina and helps keep it healthy.
Can cause a medical condition called lichen sclerosis, in which the labia and vulva become thin and fragile. This ailment creates chronic inflammation, itching, and pain, and, in severe cases, significant scarring and changes in the tissue. Testosterone ointment has been used to treat this condition. Testosterone also maintains muscle tone, and a loss of it can contribute to the aging of your skin. Low testosterone can also contribute to stress incontinence or other bladder control problems.
This hormone also greatly influences motivation, drive, and confidence, and perhaps even feelings of self-worth. In moderation, testosterone can be very beneficial for your skin. Proper testosterone levels work with estrogen to preserve skin collagen and thus protect against wrinkling and aging. When testosterone levels are low, the skin is affected by a loss of collagen and muscle tone.
Decreased testosterone levels
May be partially responsible for the increased dryness of the skin that can occur during and after menopause. The sebaceous glands, which excrete lubricating oil-like substances from the pores onto the skin, often work less efficiently after menopause due to low testosterone. On the other hand, too much testosterone isn’t good for your skin, either. The signs include excessive oiliness, acne, and increased hair on the face or body. High levels of testosterone in women can also result in a thinning of the scalp hair, a condition called androgenic alopecia.