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Brain's Response to Estrogen May Affect Menopausal Transition

Because I believe very simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in smoothing a woman's natural transition through menopause versus conventional treatments like estrogen therapy, I was particularly interested in a new study that suggests age-related changes in how the brain responds to estrogen may be involved.

Hormone patterns found in this study among some middle-aged women showed, with age, a part of a woman's brain which regulates reproductive hormone levels may become less sensitive to estrogen, according to researchers. Other findings suggest these decreases in sensitivity can lead to significantly increased hot flashes and night sweats too.

Scientists discovered the discrepancies in two of the three control groups by monitoring fluctuations in estrogen as well as luteinizing hormones (LH), produced by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain.

Although these findings are the first to describe hormone patterns reflecting changes in responses to estrogen in human women, they are consistent with previous studies in other mammals that have described similar central nervous system insensitivity to estrogen with aging.

Science Blog December 28, 2004

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