The 411 on Hormones
– Post by Love Club Contributor: AlexaKirbs. Join the discussion and read more on The Love Club
Hormones play a huge role in our bodies and are incredibly sensitive. Hormone imbalances can have a big affect on our health compromising everything from our moods to our energy level and even maintaining a healthy weight. With so many different hormones in our bodies, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint which hormones may be off and thus negatively affecting your health. It is important to be open with a trusted healthcare provider about symptoms you may be experiencing to see if your hormones are to blame.
Here are just a few of the hormones in our bodies and some of the symptoms associated with them being imbalanced.
Estrogen is one of women’s two sex hormones and plays a huge role in reproductive health. Estrogen can also affect other body systems, including your brain, heart, bones and skin. Estrogen levels fluctuate during the month depending on what part of your menstrual cycle you’re in. Some factors that may increase your estrogen levels are consuming too much phyto-estrogen (think soy products) and birth control pills. Estrogen levels naturally decrease in menopause. Excess estrogen can lead to weight gain, cystic breasts, worsening PMS and low libido, while low estrogen can lead to difficulty sleeping, hot flashes and dry skin.
The second sex hormone for females is progesterone. Progesterone plays a big role in the menstrual cycle and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. One of the most important roles progesterone plays is helping establishing a healthy pregnancy and grow the placenta. Just like with estrogen, progesterone also naturally fluctuates according to ovulation and your menstrual cycle. Low progesterone can lead to irregular periods, mood changes including anxiety and depression and infertility while fatigue and low libido could mean your progesterone levels are too high.
Testosterone is usually associated with men but it is also an extremely important hormone in women as well! Testosterone helps control women’s body fat and muscle mass, maintenance of bones and supports a healthy sex drive. Just like all other hormones it is important for testosterone to stay balanced within the body. Some symptoms of high testosterone include excess body and facial hair, irregular periods, reduction in breast size and weight gain. Low testosterone can cause sluggishness, vaginal dryness and thinning hair.
Known as the “stress hormone” but Cortisol plays a much larger role than just contributing to the stress response in the human body. Almost all the cells in the human body have cortisol receptors so it can affect the body in a variety of different ways. Cortisol naturally fluctuates throughout the day and follows your circadian rhythm (so it is higher in the morning when you’re waking up and lower in the evening when you’re going to bed). It is important to keep some balance in your cortisol as having too much can lead to mood swings, rapid weight gain and high blood pressure (among other health issues) while having too little can cause fatigue, muscle weakness and dizziness. You can keep your cortisol levels in check by low intensity exercise (pilates, yoga, walking), limiting caffeine and alcohol intake and creating a routine of when you go to bed and get up each morning.
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