The Hormone Highway

Written by Fiona Catchpowle

Creator & Founder of The Menopause School. Passionate about educating the world on menstruation to menopause.

March 29, 2022

The time frame of hormone changes between birth and death.

Hormonal ageing is applicable to all people. There is a predetermined pattern of hormone activity for humans over time, that allow us to function in different ways at different times in a typical life cycle. With a female focus we can classify the *5 stages as:

  • Menstruation – periods start approximately aged 11
  • Premenopause – menstrual cycle is regular
  • Perimenopause – the time leading up to menopause when periods may change
  • Menopause (day) – periods stop approximately aged 51
  • Postmenopause – the moment after menopause day

*With or without the use of contraception the timeline still applies

The hormones that form part of the menstrual cycle are the same hormones involved in menopausing.

  • At the point of puberty the ovaries begin to produce the oestrogen called estradiol.
  • Once the menstrual cycle begins a couple of years later the pattern of periods starts erratically, then becomes regular, and total levels of estradiol rises
  • Levels plateau around the late 20s and remain this way until hormonal ageing begins in the late 30s.
  • During the later reproductive years, called perimenopause, a typical erratic pattern shown by marked hormone fluctuations, linked to irregular periods, as a direct result of irregular ovarian activity, leads to a decline in hormone production
  • The changing levels over time, and ratio of the hormone collective result in physical and psychological changes in the body and mind, directly related to each hormone’s function. The changes are referred to as signs & symptoms of perimenopause.
  • The process is considered to be an adaption that is called reproductive ageing.
  • The sharp changes in levels of hormones, particularly estradiol, can often trigger larger scale changes in the body and mind, these signs & symptoms can create additional physical and psychological changes that impact upon health and well-being over time, called risks & consequences.
  • Postmenopause marks the final shift which is the permanent state, when menstruation has ceased, hormone fluctuations minimise and eventually rest at a fixed level considered in some respects to represent a deficient state.

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