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Hugging a Pillow

Hormones work together to shape your body throughout your life, influencing everything from reproduction to emotional wellness. As you age, however, estrogen and progesterone levels naturally begin to fall and, eventually, become permanently low. While some women experience ongoing symptoms after menopause, the most uncomfortable symptoms usually occur during the period of hormonal change leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause.
These changes have a significant influence:
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women, produced mainly in the ovaries. It is responsible for the development and ongoing maintenance of the female reproductive system. As estrogen begins to fall during perimenopause, feedback mechanisms attempt to bring it back up. This may result in fluctuations that cause breast tenderness, bloating, and heavier periods. As estrogen continues to decline, you may experience more severe physical and emotional symptoms.
Progesterone, produced primarily in the ovaries, helps to prepare the uterus to receive a fertilized egg and supports pregnancy. As progesterone levels decrease, a range of symptoms may occur including longer and heavier periods, increasing levels of anxiety, and sleep disruptions.
Though widely regarded as a male hormone, testosterone is also produced in the ovaries. It influences a woman’s sex drive, may help to preserve bone density and muscle mass, and some of it is converted to estrogen. Though testosterone levels in women begin to decline slowly starting around age 30, some production continues in the ovaries and the adrenal glands even after menopause. The impact of decreasing testosterone levels is not well understood, but there may be an impact on libido and mood.

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