A new study suggests that age–related changes in how the brain responds to the female sex hormone estrogen may be involved in a womans transition through menopause. The study provides new clues about hormonal influences on hot flashes and night sweats experienced by some women in the menopause transition.
The findings are reported in the December 22/29, 2004, Journal of the American Medical Association* and are based on data from the Study of Womens Health Across the Nation (SWAN), a multi-site survey of women going through the menopause transition. This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
"Throughout a womans reproductive life, there are not only age-related changes in estrogen levels, but also differences in how her body responds to given levels of estrogen. Researchers have been trying to understand how and why these changes take place," says Sherry Sherman, Ph.D., project director of the SWAN study, National Institute on Aging (NIA). "Hormone patterns found in this study could mean that, with age, a part of a womans brain which regulates reproductive hormone levels may become less sensitive to estrogen. Other study findings suggest that the decreases in sensitivity can lead to significantly increased hot flashes and night sweats."
Karin Kolsky | EurekAlert!
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