15 Mar

Entering into Cronehood, or Menopause

The cessation of menses is deemed menopause in females. The time it takes for this to occur is named climacteric and can last anywhere from 6-13 years. Simply stated, since a woman is born with all the “pre-eggs” she’ll ever have, at some point, she will run out. When this occurs, there will no longer be a corpus luteum to produce estrogen and progesterone. Simultaneously, FSH and LH levels will rise because the pituitary will not be getting the response from the developing oocyte that egg production has begun. So the pituitary sends out more LH and FSH in hopes they will stimulate the development of the egg. If you remember, estrogen stimulates ovary, uterus and vagina function. When the levels of estrogen drop, the ovary and uterus will not undergo their monthly, cyclical changes.

The decreasing levels of estrogen may cause thinning of the walls of the vagina, decrease in mucus production in the vagina, hair thinning, fuzzy thinking, and increased risk of osteoporosis (although there are many causes). High levels of estrogen relative to progesterone can cause headaches and irritability. Hot flashes have not been linked to low estrogen levels, but some evidence points to fluxes in neurotransmitters in the brain (funny how no research has been done).

While the ovary’s production of estrogen decreases, estrogen production in the adrenals, skin, muscles, brain, pineal gland, hair follicle and fat tissue increases by up to two-fold. Androgens produced by the adrenal gland are precursors to estrogen and can be converted to estrogen. Having healthy adrenals coming into menopause is one way a woman can help herself. Unfortunately, most women in this day and age come into menopause with fatigued adrenals.

More than any stage of a woman’s life, it seems menopause has many negative attributes, by women and society at large. Wonderful insights and reclamations of the power and absolute need we have of women at this stage and beyond can be found in many women’s herbal references, books by Rosemary Gladstar, Susun Weed, Christiane Northrup and Natalie Angier’s Woman, an Intimate Geography. We need our elder women and the wisdom they’ve earned.

From the files of Rosemary Gladstar

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