Many women are familiar with the fact that hormones regulate sexual function and desire, but what they may not know is that the endocrine (hormonal) system influences nearly every cell and function in the female body. Thus, when hormone levels become imbalanced, a range of serious side effects – from the symptoms of menopause and PMS to sexual dysfunction and the onset of osteoporosis – can result. Read on to learn more about natural hormones.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers produced in the glands of the endocrine system. They travel through the bloodstream and regulate metabolism. All of the body’s processes are “ordered” or “commanded” by hormones. The endocrine system controls and regulates hormonal levels and keeps them in a healthy balance according to what the body needs. During menopause, however, the female body slows production of hormones to prepare for the end of the fertile period of a woman’s life.
What are the most important natural hormones in the female body?
While the female body contains numerous hormones that regulate various functions, the following hormones play major roles in the female body:
- Estrogen. The most well-known female hormone, estrogen plays a role in the development of female characteristics during puberty. It also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, preserve bone density, protect against heart disease, and increase uterine growth.
- Progesterone. Progesterone’s biggest role in the female body is to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg each month. However, it also works in tandem with estrogen to regulate the menstrual cycle, preserve bone density, and promote a healthy immune system.
- Testosterone. Though it is commonly perceived as an exclusively male hormone, testosterone plays a vital role in boosting female libido, improving mood, and protecting against bone fractures and breaks.
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH functions in development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes in the female body. It is best known for stimulating the production of estrogen in the first part of the menstrual cycle and preparing the body for ovulation.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH). Produced in the anterior pituitary gland, an acute rise in LH levels during the menstrual cycle triggers ovulation in the female body and helps prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg.
Because natural hormones impact virtually every function in the body – from mood and metabolism to energy, vitality, and sexual function – the surplus or deficiency of any one hormone can trigger a range of uncomfortable side effects in women. Women going through the menopause life transition will experience irregular periods, pains, mood-related disorders, and low libido, while premenopausal women might experience PMS symptoms like breast swelling or tenderness, fatigue, cramping, and mood swings. Click on the links below to learn how to manage hormonal imbalance.
• Medline Plus: Hormones Overview –http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/hormones.html
• Progesterone: Overview. Healthywomen.org – http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/progesterone