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During puberty, our bodies release hormones into our bloodstreams that allow us to become physically mature, and sexually reproductive. During our peak reproductive years (early to mid adulthood), these hormones remain at a high level in our systems. However, as we reach our fifties and sixties, production of these hormones decreases substantially. By our eighties and nineties, they are almost nonexistent in our bloodstream. Since there is a clear relation between our chronologic ages and the level of hormones in our blood, it's logical to wonder if we could keep ourselves younger by keeping our hormone levels high.
The main hormones that affect women, estrogen and progesterone, both play an important part in your menstrual cycle. Watch as OB/GYN specialist Jessica Shepherd, MD, explains how hormone levels decrease significantly as women approach menopause.
As we age, complex changes occur in the body. Women know very well when their estrogen hormone declines. After it decreases to a critical level, menstruation ceases. The timing is predetermined at birth and depends on the number of eggs in the ovary. When they run out, menopause occurs.
Other hormones drop off similarly. Thyroid hormone, growth hormone, testosterone, the adrenal androgen dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) are just some of the hormones that diminish as we age. Both men and women have female hormones called estrogens and male hormones called androgens. Only endocrinologists and physiologists can begin to grasp the complicated mechanisms and interactions of hormones. Like the discovery of new planets around stars, new hormones are found at regular intervals. We know more are out there, but they haven't yet been seen or measured. This adds to the mystery of aging.
Without blood tests, we can't tell when most hormones decline. But along with their decline are the obvious signs of aging. Hair turns gray, wrinkles appear, and skin sags. Muscles shrink and fat collects. The integrity of muscles, cartilage, and bone decreases. We get fractures, joint and back pain, and arthritis. We begin to forget more; we take longer to solve problems. And our creativity declines. Together, these are called cognitive changes.
A hormone is a chemical produced in one area of your body that travels to another area to produce a physiological effect. Hormones govern many crucial body functions including: sexual stimulation, growth, metabolism, lean muscle mass, and emotions. Hormones have complex interactions which help us to feel healthy, strong, and vital. Beginning in our late 20s and early 30s, the hormones we like to be low typically begin to rise and the hormones we like high typically begin to fall. As a result, we see and feel the effects of aging: lack of energy, lack of sexual interest, difficulty maintaining muscular weight, fat gain, memory loss, and poor sleep.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.