Do You Know Your Hormones?

Do You Know Your Hormones?

If you’re a woman, there’s a big chance that every month you wonder if there’s something not quite alright.  You may experience reproductive hormones that ricochet and mess with your period, libido, and fertility.  You might even feel incredibly excited, sad, tired or hungry (or the opposite).  The truth is, it’s normal to experience these hormonal changes.  There are some hormones you’ll be better off becoming familiar with, so that you’re well prepared to keep them in check.

Estrogen
Stable levels of estradiol, the most potent kind, can boost libido and immunity.  Estradiol prepares the uterus for conception.  Estrogen impacts your body in a big way by sending “grow” signals to every cell in your body.  Excessive amounts of estrogen can cause severe PMS, issues with fertility and breast cancer.  Low levels can lead to osteoporosis.  A good way to find balance is to maintain a healthy weight — too little body weight can interrupt production and having excessive fat cells can produce a kind of estrogen that interferes with estradiol.

Progesterone
This hormone makes a uterine lining every month.  Levels drop without conception, which prompts your period.  Progesterone has some positives and negatives:  It can help you sleep because it has a mild sedative effect.  On the other hand, it can make you retain more water, experience constipation and have excess gas.  It’s vital to regulate progesterone if you want to have a child.  A lot of women try over-the-counter creams, but studies have shown they are ineffective.  Meditating for as little as five minutes each day may help.  Speak with your doctor about additional options.

Testosterone
Usually we think of men when the subject of this androgen hormone arises.  It’s for women, too!  It supports a strong libido and regular ovulation.  Good things, right?  Too much testosterone, which is often linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), can lead to effects such as acne and excess hair growth.  The presence of high levels of testosterone have been linked closely with obesity, so maintaining a healthy weight is important.

Prolactin
This hormone has two main tasks:  it stimulates the production of breast milk in new moms and governs egg release.  It’s not common to have extremely high levels of prolactin, but when it happens it can significantly lower your libido and cause symptoms that are similar to those brought on by menopause. Having levels that are slightly elevated can cause ovulation suppression.  If you desire weight loss after childbirth, having balanced levels can help you drop weight more quickly.  Prolactin levels can spike if you’re sleep deprived. As always, seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is recommended.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)/Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
FSH stimulates preparation of eggs for fertilization; LH makes them drop.  A balance of FSH/LH levels can influence good levels of progesterone.  High levels of FSH are associated with acne, memory issues and insomnia.  It’s important to keep alcohol consumption low or avoid drinking.  Having more than two drinks in day can throw off levels.

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