Hormones are natural substances produced by the body. They help convey a message between cells and organs. They affect many physical functions. Everyone has what is considered a ‘male’ and ‘female’ hormone.
In this post, I have discussed in detail how feminine hormones affect the female body.
Types of feminine hormones
The two primary female hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Testosterone is considered to be a male hormone, but women also produce and need small amounts.
It is the most critical feminine hormone. Most of it comes from the ovaries, but the adrenal glands and fat cells produce small amounts. During pregnancy, the placenta also produces estrogen.
Estrogen plays a vital role in sexual and reproductive development, including:
Estrogen also affects:
- Cardiovascular system
- Musculoskeletal system
- Urinary Tract
A blood test can determine estrogen levels. This may vary from person to person, but the usual range of picograms (pg/ml) per milliliter is:
- Adult female, postmenopausal: <10 pg / ml
- Adult female, premenopausal: 15–350 pg / ml
- Adult male: 10–40 pg / ml
Levels vary widely throughout the menstrual cycle.
The ovaries produce the female hormone progesterone after ovulation. During pregnancy, the placenta also makes some amount.
The role of progesterone is as follows:
- Develop the inner wall of the uterus for the fertilised egg
- Support pregnancy
- Suppresses estrogen production after ovulation
Small amounts of testosterone come from the adrenal glands and ovaries. This hormone is involved in several physical functions, including:
- Adjustment of the menstrual cycle
- Muscle and Bone strength
A blood test can determine testosterone levels. The normal range for women is 15–70 nanograms (ng / dL) per deciliter.
Role of feminine hormones
Hormones are an integral part of many physical functions. However, when a female leaves infancy and enters puberty, hormones change dramatically.
It also changes dramatically when a female becomes pregnant, gives birth, or breastfeeds. And as menopause approaches, they continue to change.
All females are different, but most women enter puberty between the ages of 8 and 13. And that all happens due to hormones.
Luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are produced in the pituitary gland. During puberty, production increases, which stimulates sex hormones, especially estrogens.
This increase in female hormones leads to:
- Breast development
- Pubic and armpit hair growth
- General growth buds
- Increased body fat, especially at the waist and thighs
- Maturity of the ovaries, uterus, and vagina
- The beginning of the menstrual cycle
The first menstrual period (menstruation) occurs about 2–3 years after the breast develops. Again, this is different for everyone, but most women have menarche between 10 and 16.
The day when bleeding begins is the first day of the cycle or follicular phase. The pituitary gland begins to produce a little more FSH. It stimulates the growth of follicles in your ovaries. Only one predominant strand continues to grow.
As this follicle produces more estrogen, other strands break down. Higher levels of estrogen stimulate a surge in LH. This phase lasts about two weeks.
Next comes the ovulation period. LH breaks and opens the follicle, releasing the egg. This phase lasts about 16–32 hours. Fertilisation only occurs about 12 hours after the egg leaves the ovary.
The luteal phase begins after ovulation. It prepares the uterus to receive the fertilized egg. The ruptured follicle closes, and progesterone production increases.
If this does not happen, estrogen and progesterone will decrease again, beginning the cycle. The entire menstrual cycle lasts about 25–36 days. Bleeding lasts 3–7 days.
Contraception and sexual desire
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are involved in women’s sexual desire and function. Due to hormonal fluctuations, women generally have a peak of sexual desire just before ovulation.
In general, the use of hormonal contraceptives reduces the fluctuations in libido that affect hormone levels. Your libido may also fluctuate less than after menopause.
During the luteal phase of the cycle, an increase in progesterone prepares the uterus to receive fertilized eggs. The uterine wall thickens and is filled with nutrients and other fluids to support the embryo.
Progesterone thickens the cervix and protects the uterus from bacteria and sperm. It also has high estrogen levels and contributes to the thickening of the endometrium. Both hormones help dilate the ducts of the breast.
A hormone found in urine is used to perform pregnancy tests. When fertilisation occurs, it begins to produce the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It also increases the production of estrogen and progesterone, helps prevent menstruation, and helps maintain pregnancy.
Human placental lactogen (hPL) is a hormone produced by the placenta. In addition to providing nutrients to the baby, it helps stimulate the mammary glands for breastfeeding. Levels of another hormone called relaxin also increase during pregnancy. Relaxin aids placenta implantation and growth and prevents contraction from occurring too quickly. When labor begins, this hormone helps relax the ligaments of the pelvis.
After childbirth and breastfeeding
At the end of pregnancy, hormone levels begin to drop quickly. They eventually reach pre-pregnancy levels. A sudden and significant decrease in estrogen and progesterone may contribute to the development of postpartum depression.
Breastfeeding can lower estrogen levels and prevent ovulation. However, this is not always the case, and contraception is needed to avoid another pregnancy.
Menopause and perimenopause
During menopause, the period leading up to menopause slows the production of hormones in the ovaries. Estrogen levels begin to fluctuate, but progesterone levels start to decline gradually.
Lower hormone levels can reduce vaginal lubrication. Some females experience decreased libido and have an irregular menstrual cycle.
Menopause is reached after 12 months without menstruation. At this time, both estrogen and progesterone are stable at low levels.
Now you know in detail about the feminine hormone and its effect on the body. If you want to get more knowledge, you can consult an endocrinologist.
It would help if you regularly visited an Endocrinologist to ensure your body’s hormone system is working correctly. You can book an appointment with the best endocrinologist through Marham.
Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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