After menopause, the ovaries produce estrogen

Menopause: Physical and Hormonal Changes

Woman's hormone levels change with age. When the ovaries are around 40 years of age, their function begins to decline, so that they gradually produce less progesterone and estrogens (female sex hormones).

Both ovaries contain several million follicles at birth. This number decreases during puberty to around 100,000 to 250,000 and then steadily decreases with each ovulation. Although only a single egg cell leaves the ovaries with each monthly ovulation, several follicles mature with each month and are lost after ovulation has taken place.

After an average of 50 years of life, there are no more follicles in a woman's ovaries that can grow into ovulating follicles. Since the follicles are responsible for the production of estrogens, the production of estrogens also decreases. The result is the last menstrual bleeding controlled by the ovaries: the so-called menopause.

With menopause, the production of hormones in the brain also changes. Since the ovaries produce less and less estrogens during menopause, the brain releases more hormones from the group of gonadotropins. These are sex hormones that are supposed to stimulate the ovaries to produce hormones. Above all, the so-called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is released. This shift in hormone balance can lead to various symptoms such as hot flashes and sweats during menopause.

The exact cause of the hot flashes is not yet fully understood. One suspicion is that falling estrogen levels lead to fluctuations in the body's heat balance.

NoteIn younger women, menopause can set in as a side effect of treatment (e.g. after removal or radiation of both ovaries as part of cancer therapy). This is known as "indicated" or "artificial" menopause. It usually triggers symptoms similar to those of natural menopause.