What Your Hormones Are Trying To Tell You
This is the kickoff to a series of posts focusing on women’s health, just in time for Mother's Day! I will be covering everything from PMS to pregnancy. If you want to know about a particular topic feel free to leave a comment in the comment section and I will do my best to address it!
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers. They are messages that are released by one cell and travel through the bloodstream to give a message to another cell. You can think of a hormone much like the postman. He or she delivers a message from one cell (the post office) to another cell (your house) that tell your house what to do (for example pay its hydro bill). Hormones are responsible for regulating most processes in the body! Many hormones work in a cascade, meaning that one hormone sends a message that causes the release of another hormone and so on. It is then easy to see how if one of the hormones is out of whack and not delivering its message properly, the rest of the cells can start to misbehave. Much like if a row of dominos are lined up and one is too far so that when it falls it doesn’t hit the next domino. Everything that is supposed to happen next stops.
Women vs. Men….Are Their Hormones Really That Different?
While it is true that both men and women have plenty of hormones circulating around in their bodies, women have many more! The picture associated with this blog post sums it up quite nicely. With a man adjusting his hormones is like adjusting one dial to control the temperature in your house, where as with women it is like trying to turn 10 dials and get them to all come together to regulate the temp…..no easy task!
The Key Male Hormones
-Testosterone: development of male reproductive tissues, increases bone and muscle mass, stimulates body hair growth
-Dihydrotestosterone: a more potent form of testosterone, it is the hormone that most greatly contributes to male pattern baldness
The Key Female Hormones
Estrogen: There are 3 types: 1) Estrone 2) Estradiol and 3) Estriol. Estrone should be the lowest and can increase the risk of breast cancer. Estradiol is the most prevalent and helps with the development of secondary sex characteristics and maintains bone mass. Estriol is the form of estrogen that is produced during pregnancy.
Progesterone: prepares the uterine lining for implantation, is anti-inflammatory, helps regulate the immune system, helps regulate insulin and normalizes blood clotting among many other functions.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone: responsible for maturation of the follicle that will become the egg at ovulation
Luteinizing Hormone: triggers ovulation
Key Hormones in Both Men and Women
Thyroid: known as T3 (more active) and T4 (more abundant). These two hormones are the masterminds of your metabolism
DHEA: intermediate hormone in the synthesis of testosterone and estrogens
Insulin: regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body
Cortisol: our “fight or flight” hormone, released when under chronic stress
Having one or more of these hormones out of balance can lead to many physical and mental symptoms. Now that you know the hormone basics, I will cover many of the conditions that are related to hormonal imbalance in these series of posts
As always, feel free to leave any questions or comments below
Dr Alexis practices at Life Therapies In Ottawa. Call 613.422.8939 to book your appointment
Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits