Aging Changes In Hormone Production
As the body ages, the amounts of certain hormones the body produces change.
What is the information for this topic?
There are many different hormones in the body. Each has different effects on the body. Aging affects hormone levels in a variety of ways, including:
- changes in levels of hormones being released and produced
- changes in the rate at which the hormones are broken down
- changes in the way the tissues and cells respond to the hormones
The hormone changes seen in women at menopause are most likely to cause symptoms. Menopause is diagnosed after a woman has missed 12 months of menstrual periods and occurs because a woman stops making enough of the female hormone called estrogen. Estrogen is made by the ovaries. Menopause usually occurs around age 50. A woman may go through menopause earlier if she has her ovaries removed.
Low estrogen levels can cause many symptoms. These may include, but are not limited to:
- vaginal dryness
As men age, they make less of the male hormone called testosterone. This usually causes less sperm to be made. Decreased testosterone production can cause symptoms that include:
decreased muscle size
decrease in sex drive
The levels of most other hormones in the body either stay the same or decrease slightly. However, these age-related changes do not seem to affect people. For example, the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, may make fewer hormones with age.
Though these hormones are important in fluid and salt balance, problems do not usually occur.
Insulin secretion, which helps keep blood glucose levels normal, usually decreases with age. However, healthy older people do not usually have a problem with blood glucose.
There is little that can be done to reverse the age-related changes in hormone levels. However, oral or injectable hormone therapy may be helpful in some cases.
Estrogen therapy for women, with or with out progestin therapy (depending upon whether the woman has her uterus or not) is the most effective therapy to get rid of hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.
For men with testosterone deficiency, testosterone therapy is available. Testosterone may help an older man feel better.
Hormone therapy has risks and side effects, however, and should be discussed with a healthcare professional. Taking other hormones, such as growth hormone or DHEA, has not been shown to be helpful in healthy people and may cause harm.