Menopause is the point at which a woman stops ovulating and menstruation ceases. It is important to remember that the menopause is not a disease. It is as natural a progression in life as puberty.
Many years before a woman stops ovulating, her ovaries slow their production of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. While oestrogen is indeed essential for reproduction, it also acts on many non reproductive organs and systems in the body. Cells in the vagina, bladder, breasts, skin, bones arteries, heart, liver and brain all contain oestrogen receptors, and require this hormone to stimulate these receptors for normal cell function. Oestrogen is needed to keep the skin smooth and moist, and the body's internal thermostat operating properly. It is also necessary for proper bone formation. Although oestrogen levels drop sharply after menopause, the hormone does not disappear entirely. Other organs take over from the ovaries and continue to produce a less potent form of oestrogen. The organs known as endocrine glands secrete some hormones from fatty tissue to maintain bodily functions. Progesterone works as a counterpart to oestrogen. Progesterone too has effects beyond the reproductive system. It has a calming effect on the brain and appears to affect other aspects of nervous system function as well.
For most women, hormone production begins to slow down when they reach their thirties and continues to diminish as they age. Many women experience few if any symptoms during this time, but others may suffer from some of the following: anxiety, dry skin, fatigue, feelings of bloating, headaches, heart palpitations, hot flashes, insomnia mood swings etc. With proper diet, nutritional supplements and exercise most of the unpleasant side effects of menopause can be minimised or even eliminated.