While hormones are essential for reproduction, they are also crucial for the other systems of the human body. Hormones are molecules that are produced by the endocrine system that send messages to various parts of the body. They help to regulate multiple processes of the body like blood pressure, hunger, and sexual drive. Hormones are released from endocrine glands. They instruct the body on how to breathe and how to use energy. Here, we will talk about hormones that are present in females as well as males. This section will tell us what estrogen and progesterone are and what causes high estrogen levels.
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Hormones are chemical secretions. Hormones flow through the whole body but target specific cells designed to receive their message. Hormones and hormone receptors sites work in combination, like lock and key. Hormones are made from proteins or steroids, which function as messengers of the body and maintain an internal balance. In simple words, hormones keep the body in a state of equilibrium or homeostasis. These secreted hormones or chemicals flow throughout the body, along with the bloodstream. Fig.1
Types of Female Hormones
The two primary female sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Testosterone is a male hormone; however, females also produce it and need a small amount of this hormone.
Estrogen: The primary female hormone is estrogen. A significant share of hormone estrogen comes from the ovaries, however small amounts of estrogen are also produced in the adrenal glands and fat cells. The placenta also makes estrogen during pregnancy.
Progesterone: Ovaries produce the female sex hormone progesterone after ovulation. The placenta also produces some progesterone during pregnancy. Similar to estrogen, progesterone is also produced in the adrenal tissue and ovaries.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG): HCG is yet another hormone that is produced naturally in women. It is made in the cells that make up the placenta at the time of pregnancy. This hormone is found in urine and blood tests that are done for pregnancy.
Testosterone: Predominantly a male hormone, testosterone is produced in small amounts in women as well. Similarly, a small amount of estrogen is also produced in men. Testosterone hormone is developed by other hormones such as DHEA and DHEA-S.
DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone is a kind of steroidal hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland.
Functions of Female Hormones
Numerous hormones synthesised by several glands perform an immense number of functions that serve different purposes. Each of the major hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone perform several functions, such as
Estrogen plays a vital role in reproductive and sexual development. The part also extends to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Estrogen also affects the working of the brain, cardiovascular system, hair, musculoskeletal system, skin, and urinary tract.
The role of the other primary hormone, progesterone, is to prepare the lining of the uterus for a fertilised egg, support pregnancy, and suppress estrogen production after ovulation.
Small amounts of male hormone testosterone come from the adrenal gland and ovaries. This hormone plays a crucial role in several body functions such as sexual desire, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and bone and muscle strength.
HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is produced by the developing placenta, stimulates the ovaries to produce higher levels of estrogen and progesterone that are needed to sustain a pregnancy.
Note: Hypothalamus, a part of the brain, starts to release large pulses of gonadotropin-releasing hormones GnRH- It stimulates the pituitary gland ( in the brain) to produce luteinising hormone- LH and follicle-stimulating hormone- FSH, which in turn cause a girls’ ovaries to start producing other hormones.
Female Hormone Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance happens when there is over or underproduction of a hormone in the bloodstream. Hormones play essential roles in the body; minor irregularities can cause side effects throughout the body.
Hormonal imbalances are more prevalent during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. Several hormonal imbalances are due to external factors such as stress or hormone medications. However, hormonal imbalances can also be due to any medical condition that impact or involve the endocrine system or endocrine glands.
Hormone Test and Normal Levels
Blood tests determine Estrogen levels. The normal levels are 15- 350 pg/ml for premenopausal adult female and ˂10 pg/ml for a postmenopausal adult female.
Blood tests determine Progesterone levels. 0.1 to 0.3 ng/ml at puberty to 290 ng/ml in the third trimester is normal.
Blood tests determine testosterone levels. The normal level is 15 to 70 ng/dl.
1. What factors lead to hormonal imbalance in Females?
Women are more prone to hormonal imbalances in their lifetime, including during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, post-menopause, and menopause. Women have more tendency to develop hormonal imbalance than men as they have different endocrine glands and cycles. Medical conditions that can cause hormonal imbalance in women include the following: polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS (the most common source), along with other causes such as hormone replacement or birth control medications. Other reasons are early menopause, primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), and ovarian cancer. Symptoms include irregular periods, indigestion, osteoporosis, hair loss, hoarse voice, infertility, weight gain, acne, abnormal hair growth on facial areas, etc.
2. Is there a natural treatment for Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones have a significant effect on the mental, physical, and emotional health. These chemical messengers have a considerable role to play in controlling appetite, weight, and mood. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle behaviours and a nutritious diet can help improve hormonal health and allow a person to feel and perform best. One can try the following measures - have enough protein at every meal, engage in regular exercise, avoid sugar, and refined carbs. Manage stress, consume healthy fats, avoid overeating and undereating, drink green tea, and have a high-quality sleep. Some factors are beyond control, but a healthy lifestyle and medications help.