The endocrine system consists of a group of glands and organs that regulate and control various body functions by producing and secreting hormones. Hormones are chemical substances that affect the activity of another part of the body. In essence, hormones serve as messengers, controlling and coordinating activities throughout the body. These hormones or messengers, act with a positive and negative feedback mechanism on one another to maintain normal bodily function including in times of need like puberty & also in times when they are no longer needed, like in menopause.
Levels of most, but not all hormones decrease with aging. Some hormones might remain at levels once seen during early adult life and some might even increase as we age. However, endocrine function generally declines with age because hormone quality decreases and hormone receptor activity become less sensitive.
In females, estrogen & progesterone decrease with age, and when they decrease to a certain level, this causes symptoms of perimenopause such as hot flashes, irregular menstrual cycles & possibly missing periods, mood swings & fatigue, lower sex drive, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping to name a few. This lasts until menopause kicks in, usually lasting a few years after which, when periods stop altogether. This is when women are in danger of developing osteoporosis (brittle bone disease). In females, hormone replacement is almost always a recommendation to prevent this possibly fatal disease.
In males, testosterone continues to decline but stays at a level high enough to maintain reproductive organs well into the ’70s. That’s not to say, in others, it doesn’t decrease more rapidly. In those, doctors have termed the phrase Low T or Low testosterone. This can be the culprit of fatigue, decreased memory & concentration decreased muscle mass, and increased fatty tissue. It also causes low sex drive and infertility, change in sleep patterns, and can also induce depression. Males are usually recommended hormone replacement to thwart the effects of Low T.
In either sex, the use of hormone replacement has continued to evolve and today, there are many options for replacement. Some are safe and some are not so safe. Overall, you should find a qualified physician who understands the symptoms you are facing and how to have a multi-pronged approach in restoring the imbalance your body is now facing.