Women over 50 years of age normally enter into a developmental period that involves hormonal changes. They may experience perimenopause (the time before their periods end) or enter into an early menopause (at which time their periods cease). Both of these can produce signs of hormonal imbalance, such as missing a period, experiencing hot flushes and night sweats, or having longer and heavier-than-normal periods.
Missed Period (Amenorrhea)
One sign of a hormone imbalance in older women is the absence of a period. This can occur because female hormones change as a woman ages and begins to reach menopause, according to the University of Alabama Student Health Center. Your doctor may recommend the administration of progesterone for seven to 14 days to address the problem. This process may have to be repeated every one to two months if the problem persists or returns again after an initial correction.
Missed periods can occur for other reasons as well, and an occasional missed period isn't necessarily cause for alarm. When it becomes a routine problem each month -- and you are over 50, potentially entering menopause -- consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of a cyst or tumour on your ovaries or uterus.
Hot Flushes/Night Sweats
Other signs of hormone imbalances in older women include hot flushes and night sweats, which generally go hand-in-hand. According to Dr. John Lee, petite and small women tend to have this problem more than their larger counterparts. It is due to the deficiency of the oestrogen hormone. Doctors can prescribe oestrogen to counteract the problems associated with this hormone imbalance, but natural remedies are also available. Natural remedies include refraining from caffeine, alcohol and hot drinks, as well as reducing stress, abstaining from hot or spicy foods and avoiding warm environments.
Oestrogen imbalances in women over 50 can also cause vaginal dryness, memory problems, painful intercourse and bladder infections.
Having a heavy period once in a while is not necessarily cause for alarm. Having a heavy period when you normally never do is another matter. Heavy bleeding can be a sign of a hormone imbalance that is caused by excessive oestrogen and irregular levels of progesterone, according to "100 Questions and Answers About Menopause," by Ivy M. Alexander, PhD and Karla A. Knight, RN, MSN.
Heavy bleeding that persists for extended periods of time because of a hormone imbalance can cause anaemia, which can be dangerous if left untreated. If anaemia becomes life-threatening, surgery may be needed to correct the problem, according to the Baylor College of Medicine.
- University of Alabama Student Health Center: Women's Health - Missed "Period" (Amenorrhea)
- Baylor College of Medicine: Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
- Ivy M. Alexander, PhD, C-ANP and Karla A. Knight, RN, MSN "100 Questions and Answers About Menopause," Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.; 2005, pg. 35