The “mother of all hormones” has long been known for its anti-aging benefits. But new research suggests that pregnenolone may help ease menopause symptoms.
For most women, menopause starts in their late 40s or early 50s. The average age of onset is 51, but it can begin anytime between the ages of 40 and 55. For the vast majority of women the onset of menopause is accompanied by unwanted symptoms like unstable mood, hot flashes, memory loss, night sweats, loss of interest in sex, irregular periods and vaginal dryness. Long the standard for treatment to decrease menopause symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is now known to increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Many healthcare providers therefore no longer prescribe traditional HRT, which has left menopausal women looking for alternative ways to cope with menopause symptoms. Many have turned to natural or alternative treatments and supplements for relief of the discomfort of menopause.
Decrease Menopause Symptoms Naturally
The benefits of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) for menopause have been widely advertised in recent years, but the precursor to DHEA, pregnenolone, is less well known. Without pregnenolone, your body couldn’t produce DHEA or other hormones like estrogen, testosterone and cortisol. Pregnenolone is the “mother hormone” and its effects are far-ranging and powerful. Studies over the past 50 years have shown that it improves memory, quality of sleep, sex drive, and mood. Sometimes called the “ultimate raw material” for the entire human body, pregnenolone is made not only in the sex organs and adrenal glands but also in the spinal cord and naturally diminishes as we age. Almost every human being will experience lowered levels of pregnenolone as the aging process continues, a deficiency that has far-ranging implications for health. One of the main uses for pregnenolone supplements, therefore, has been to counter the effects of aging. But its ability to help in other areas, particularly its ability to decrease menopause symptoms, is just as its impressive as its track record for countering the effects of age.
Pregnenolone and Menopause
For over half a century, scientists have known that the use of pregnenolone supplements can ease a variety of symptoms including many of the unwanted symptoms of menopause. Below are some of the areas directly related to menopause, and how pregnenolone may be able to help.
- Overall brain function: Pregnenolone increases acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter needed for complex thought processes and is often low in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Pregnenolone appears to have a direct impact on increasing brain function and health.
- Memory: According to at least 2 recent studies, pregnenolone has the ability to aid memory and protect against new or ongoing memory loss.
- Sleep: One of the most troubling symptoms of menopause is disrupted sleep. In studies on animals, pregnenolone was shown to be vital to supporting healthy sleep.
- Anxiety: The onset of menopause is often accompanied by mood changes, including depression and anxiety. Two studies at the University of California, San Francisco suggest that pregnenolone supplements taken regularly decrease anxiety levels. Not coincidentally, many people who suffer from Schizophrenia and are also very anxious have low pregnenolone levels.
- Stress: Going through menopause is emotionally and physically stressful and involves metabolic changes that stress the entire body. pregnenolone helps balance hormones and counter the effects of stress, lessening fatigue and the feeling of being constantly run down.
- PMS: New research shows that women who suffer from PMS are more likely to have difficulty with the transition to menopause. What many women don’t realize is that, especially in the beginning stages of menopause, PMS is also present. It may seem counter intuitive but the 2 are linked. Recent data has shown evidence of a connection between low levels of pregnenolone and increased risk for PMS symptoms.
- Libido and Hot Flashes: Pregnenolone deficiency is directly linked, in study after study, to loss of interest in sex in both men and women and to hot flashes in menopausal and perimenopausal women. New research at the Mayo Clinic has found that the correlation between low pregnenolone and loss of interest in sex, vaginal dryness and hot flashes is indisputable.
Why Haven’t I Heard of It?
Pregnenolone’s role in the production of other hormones and the crucial part it plays in keeping us healthy as we age has been studied since the 1950s . Ironically, the multitude of studies on pregnenolone’s importance and benefits may be why it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves in recent years. Self-help gurus, nutritionists and corporations marketing quick solutions to the symptoms of aging are constantly on the lookout for the “next big thing” and to anyone who has studied hormone deficiency, aging or menopause, pregnenolone is “old news”. It can hardly be marketed as a “brand new discovery” to treat menopause symptoms, but this often overlooked mother hormone deserves much more attention than it has been getting in the last decade. As study after study is finding, its benefits are hard to ignore.
How to Use It
Pregnenolone in its natural form in the body is made from cholesterol. The laboratory-made version is created from wild yam, so unlike most other hormone-replacement therapies, it’s not steroid-based. Perhaps this is why a growing number of health professionals are recommending it as a natural alternative to other types of hormone replacement. It is available in capsule, liquid and tablet form, sometimes combined with other vitamins and supplements. Using it in combination with other nutrients that are known to have anti-aging and menopause relief benefits, like B vitamins and Thiamine, may increase its effectiveness and is a great way to begin a pregnenolone regimen.
E.T. Carlton is a freelance writer and social media consultant who has a background in science.