Oestrogen is the most well known sex hormone. Although the majority of oestrogen production occurs in the ovaries, the adrenal glands and fat cells produce small amounts of oestrogen too.
As oestrogen levels fall many women start to experience symptoms. Whether these are the textbook hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, the more commonly discussed symptoms of poor sleep, going back and forwards to the toilet with cystitis-like symptoms. Or the psychological changes associated with the perimenopause of feeling more anxious, tense, tearful, irritable and angry. Some women experience what is unknown as reproductive depression, they feel unhappy, joy has gone from their lives and they are not experiencing pleasure from activities they used to enjoy. This is more common in women who have had post natal depression or pre menstrual symptoms.
Women often experience headaches which are cyclical, worsening around ovulation and menstruation. Some have trialed numerous medications to settle the headaches, such as naproxen, sumatriptan, amitriptyline and even some antiepileptics. However marked decreases, or increases, in oestrogen levels can trigger the headaches and aiming to stabilise the hormone levels can have life-changing effects.
There are other symptoms, less commonly known but widely documented, such as tinnitus or teeth sensitivity.
Low oestrogen levels also have an impact on future health. With evidence showing replacing oestrogen in the form of HRT can reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, obesity and brittle bones, known as osteoporosis.