How Do Hormone Levels Change During Menopause?

Key Takeaways
  • Estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and testosterone are the four key hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle, each playing a distinct role in reproductive health and beyond.
  • Menopause brings significant hormonal fluctuations, leading to decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, which can cause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes.
  • Low estrogen levels during menopause can lead to a range of symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and an increased risk of osteoporosis.
  • Understanding and managing your hormone levels for menopause is crucial for navigating this transition confidently, with support from healthcare practitioners offering personalized treatment options to alleviate symptoms.

Menopause is a natural phase of life. If you have ovaries, you’ll reach this transition, marked by significant hormone changes during menopause. These changes can affect your menstrual cycle, but can also have a widespread impact on your overall health and well-being. Here, we delve deeper into how key hormone levels change during menopause and what this means for you.

What are the four hormones that control the menstrual cycle?

Estrogen: The Primary Player

Estrogen plays a pivotal role in the body. Involved in numerous functions beyond the reproductive system, it affects your mood, regulates cholesterol levels, and helps maintain healthy bones, skin, and hair. There are three major forms of estrogen: Estrone, Estradiol and Estriol. Estradiol is the most potent form of estrogen. Primarily produced in the ovaries, it regulates the menstrual cycle and prepares the uterus for pregnancy.

Progesterone: The Support Hormone

Progesterone works alongside estrogen to stabilize the uterine lining and support pregnancy. Your progesterone levels fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, peaking after ovulation to prepare the uterus for a potential pregnancy. 

FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone): 

The follicle-stimulating hormone, more commonly known as FSH, is produced by the pituitary gland. Alongside LH (luteinizing hormone), FSH plays a critical role in stimulating the growth of ovarian follicles and regulating your menstrual cycle. 


Often recognized for its role in males, it’s also essential in females (although in smaller quantities) and is produced by both the ovaries and adrenal glands. In women, it enhances muscle strength, bone density, and libido, in addition to contributing to the regulation of the menstrual cycle and fertility.

What happens to your hormones during menopause?

The menopause continuum is characterized by fluctuations in these hormones. When we begin to think of menopause as more than the 'ovaries stopping' we begin to understand the complex hormone fluctuations that occur during the menopause transition.

Estrogen: As your body approaches menopause, your ovaries gradually reduce estrogen production, leading to a decrease in estradiol and estrone levels. This reduction in estrogen is responsible for many of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause, like hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. It can also have long-term health implications, including an increased risk of osteoporosis and changes in cardiovascular health.

Progesterone: During menopause, your body naturally stops ovulating, which means progesterone production significantly decreases. This decline leads to the end of your menstrual periods and can contribute to mood swings and irritability—adding another layer to the complex hormonal changes experienced during this time.

FSH: As your ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone, FSH levels rise in an effort to stimulate the ovaries to produce more of these hormones.

Testosterone: The decline in testosterone levels is more gradual compared to estrogen and progesterone but can still impact libido, muscle mass, and mood.

What are the symptoms of low estrogen?

The decrease in estrogen levels during menopause can lead to various symptoms, including:

  • Hot flashes and night sweats: These are among the most common and noticeable symptoms associated with low estrogen.
  • Vaginal dryness: Reduced estrogen levels can decrease vaginal lubrication and thinning of vaginal tissues, leading to discomfort and painful intercourse.
  • Mood changes: Fluctuations in estrogen can significantly affect mood, contributing to the feeling of being on an ‘emotional roller coaster’.
  • Osteoporosis: Estrogen helps maintain bone density; thus, lower levels increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

What are the symptoms of low progesterone?

A decrease in progesterone can lead to:

  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles: With less progesterone to regulate the menstrual cycle, you might experience irregular, heavier, or longer periods during perimenopause.

If you’re over 35, and experiencing any of these symptoms, there are supports available to you. Talk to a healthcare practitioner from Felix, and they can discuss potential treatment options that will help alleviate the specific symptoms you’re experiencing

Embracing the Transition

Menopause is more than a series of physical changes, it’s a significant life transition. By gaining insight into the hormone shifts that happen during this time, and how they affect your body, you can navigate this period with confidence—making informed choices, and seeking support and treatment when necessary. 

Your journey through menopause is deeply personal, and everyone will experience it in their own unique way. Acknowledging and understanding these changes is the first step towards managing any symptoms and maintaining a healthy, fulfilling life. Take the next step and chat with a Felix healthcare practitioner to receive a personalized treatment plan for managing menopause symptoms.

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