Menopause refers to a single point in time when a woman hasn’t had her period for a full 12 months. Menopause marks a new chapter in life for many women as it represents a shift in hormones and a reduction in the body’s ability to produce the right amount of hormones that keep women feeling their best. The most common symptoms of menopause include fatigue, hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, and mood swings. DHEA is a critical hormone that drops below optimal levels during menopause and beyond and is responsible for those pesky side effects. Taking a DHEA supplement may significantly improve menopausal symptoms and help women regain the vitality that they had in their younger years. There are many different methods for increasing DHEA that can help to restore a proper hormonal balance, allowing you to enter this new chapter in life with grace.
What is DHEA
DHEA stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone, a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland. DHEA is responsible for the body’s production of reproductive hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Our ovaries also secrete a small amount of DHEA beginning in puberty on a steady basis. That’s why DHEA is referred to as the mother hormone, as it fuels the body’s metabolic pathway from puberty to menopause.
On average, a woman’s body produces 25 mg of DHEA daily, with production peaking in their 20s and naturally slowing down as women age. As women reach their 40’s through their ’50s, DHEA production declines by 50%. DHEA helps regulate the adrenal glands responsible for cortisol production, adrenaline function, and norepinephrine. These are the body’s natural way of fighting stress and pain. When a woman experiences chronic stress from life situations that typically hit at mid-life, the adrenal glands work overtime, bringing about a condition known as adrenal fatigue.
Low DHEA During Menopause
During menopause, when hormone levels drop, a chain reaction occurs that brings about an onslaught of symptoms. The most common menopausal symptoms are:
- Extreme fatigue
- Thinner skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Slow down of metabolism
- Dry eye syndrome
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Decreased libido
- Decreased mental agility
- Loss of muscle mass & bone density
The good news is that these symptoms are treatable with bioidentical hormones and adaptogens that can restore the natural balance our bodies need to feel their best. The most effective treatments increase DHEA while restoring the balance between women’s stress and sex hormones.
DHEA can be administered orally or transdermally through a slow-release patch you apply to the body. A daily dose of DHEA can increase the body’s DHEA levels and reduce or help reverse the impact and symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Combining DHEA with other hormone replacements and nutritional support ensures you live an active, healthy, well-rested lifestyle.
DHEA encourages estrogen production, which improves sexual function. When you begin taking DHEA, you may notice an initial increase in sexual desire and satisfaction due to the increased testosterone, which has a pro-sexual effect on women. DHEA also helps to improve menopausal symptoms like dry, thin skin and hot flashes. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, causing the production of cortisol to decrease. DHEA can also speed up your metabolism and suppress your appetite and has been shown to aid in weight loss for women who are in menopause.
Adrenal Fatigue and Weight Gain
Adrenal fatigue can increase the severity of menopausal symptoms. To help the body avoid adrenal fatigue naturally, it’s essential to maintain a body mass index of 19-25. As your metabolism slows during menopause, overeating leads to rapid weight gain, which worsens joint pain. Intuitive eating is very beneficial at this stage in your life, as does avoiding processed and sugary foods.
Benefits of Excercise During Menopause
Regular exercise reduces stress, oxygenates your cells, and increases your endorphins, a natural mood elevator. During menopause, regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises, increase bone density and prevents osteoporosis while increasing your metabolic rate.
Effects of Sleep
A good night’s sleep prepares your body for the day ahead and gives it the tools to keep stress at bay. At the same time, sleep helps to regulate and promote hormone balance and muscle recovery. When your body is at rest, the adrenal glands release less cortisol and increase DHEA production.
The Happiness Conundrum
I’m sure one thing you didn’t know is that being in a happy mood increases the body’s production of DHEA. DHEA has been shown to increase dopamine levels in the brain, the chemical responsible for a happy mood. There are many ways to boost your mood, such as spending time with friends and family, participating in a group class, or doing things you enjoy. Maintaining a positive outlook and attitude can create a self-sustaining DHEA production increase. This will also increase your levels of serotonin, known as the happy neurotransmitter. This, in turn, raises a positive outlook on life, which increases serotonin levels creating a positive cycle.
How to test your DHEA levels?
Before receiving DHEA treatment, you should have comprehensive blood work done to check your levels. If your levels are low, your doctor may recommend DHEA supplements in the appropriate dosage. It’s essential to take DHEA under medical supervision and monitor your blood work regularly.
If your body produces more testosterone than estrogen, taking DHEA can increase your testosterone levels to an unhealthy level. Too much DHEA can come with unwanted side effects such as hair loss, a deepened voice, facial hair, acne, breast tenderness, and mood swings. That’s why it’s crucial to do routine hormone testing with your doctor.
Menopause & DHEA
During menopause, it is common for women to increase DHEA to help restore the natural hormones that keep them feeling healthy, vital, and balanced. DHEA is also not something that you take forever. Once you achieve a proper balance and symptoms improve, dietary, and lifestyle changes can help maintain your newfound hormone balance where you produce enough DHEA on your own.
If you’re in menopause and are experiencing unwanted symptoms, consider talking to your doctor about the benefits of DHEA and other bioidentical hormones that will help you feel your best. At Longevity Care Clinic, our doctors work with cutting-edge technology to ensure your hormones are balanced so you can live a healthy, vibrant life. Give us a call today to schedule your free consult and discover how you may benefit from Biote therapy.