Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FSH and other acronyms

I've done hours upon hours of research. What exactly happens to your body when you "go through menopause"? Why do you get hot flashes, insomnia, and horrendous mood swings? Why can't you get pregnant anymore? Why does it usually happen to women in their 50's and what went wrong that it happened to me in my 30's?

I learned the most important acronym during a woman's lifetime from puberty to menopause, is the FSH level. FSH stands for follicle stimulating hormone. This hormone is one of the things that can tell a doctor what phase of life a woman is in. For example, a woman in her child-bearing years would have an FSH level of somewhere between 5 and 25. A woman with an FSH above 25 would most likely be nearing menopause (also referred to as perimenopause) and a woman with an FSH level above 50 would most likely be in menopause.

What exactly is menopause? Well, contrary to popular belief menopause is not just when a woman starts having hot flases or getting moody. Menopause is (according to MY understanding through my doctor and research) when a woman has not had her period for a year, and has elevated FSH levels. Some women begin experiencing hot flashes and mood swings however have their period for another ten years. This is technically perimenopause, not menopause.

Apaprently I am quite extraordinary because less than 1% of women experience menopause before 40.

Whe body stops producing estrogen which leads to the ovaries no longer releasing eggs. But, actually there are no more eggs. When we are born, we have the most eggs we will ever have so you can see that throughout life our egg supply dwindles until we have no more eggs left.

When the body stops producing estrogen it seems everything kind of goes "out of whack" and, "out of whack" can lead to hot flashes which easily leads to insomnia which is an excellent (yet bothersome) segue into mood swings.

Ahhh..the joys.

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