Women’s Hormones 101: Part 2 – Let’s Talk About Sex Hormones
All hormones are essential. As introduced in Hormones 101, Part 1, our hormones are involved in lots of critical body processes like heart rate and digestion. Heck, our very survival depends on them. Seeking to understand how our body functions and feels best, we look next to some of the most significant players – our sex hormones.
These chemical messengers are made in women’s ovaries, in men’s testes, and in both sexes’ adrenal glands. While our sex hormones regulate key components of development, puberty, and reproduction, they also influence many other vital functions, including (but not limited to):
- Mood and brain function
- Cardiovascular health
- Bodyweight and composition
- Skin and hair health
- Bone health
- Sexual health
The 4 Major Players in Women’s Sex Hormones
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an anabolic steroidal hormone made by the adrenal glands that regulate cortisol’s adverse effects (the stress hormone). It is essential in both women and men because it serves as a reservoir for other sex hormones. DHEA levels naturally decline after age 50, and if the level of DHEA is not adequate, that impacts the levels of almost everything else.
- Progesterone is a hormone that women make in response to ovulation (an egg being released from an ovary). It is essential in regulating menstrual cycles and in pregnancy, especially in the preliminary stages. It also plays a role in mood, breast health, brain function, and sexual health. Progesterone isn’t only for the ladies – men produce progesterone too! Made in lesser amounts by the adrenal glands and in the testes, it plays a role in sperm health and prostate health.
- Estrogen is the best known and most referenced female hormone. It comes in three forms – estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Of the three, estradiol is the most potent and active. It is primarily made in the ovaries, in smaller amounts in the adrenal glands, and in fat cells. It, along with progesterone, regulates the menstrual cycle. When levels decline, that triggers menopause. In men, it is made in the adrenal glands and created from testosterone. Estrogen is equally important in both sexes for libido and sexual function.
- Testosterone is best known as the dominant “male” hormone. In men, it is made in the testes and serves a leading role in regulating sperm production. However, testosterone is active throughout the body. It impacts many areas, including bone health and muscle mass, libido, fat distribution, heart health, blood cell production, hair growth and distribution. Although it is often thought of as the male hormone, testosterone is present in women. It stimulates the metabolism of fat and the production of muscle in all genders, and as with men, it plays a role in our lady libido, influences mood, bone and skin health, and fertility.
When it comes to keeping sex hormone levels in an optimal range, here are five things to consider:
- Chronic stress plays an influential role in the levels of our sex hormones.
- Each level varies with age, gender, diet, and environment.
- Well-balanced sex hormones regulate a variety of essential aspects of healthy body-brain function and feelings of well-being.
- Balancing hormones is a natural process.
- Checking hormone levels to understand how they influence your health, mood, body, and brain function can be an empowering place to begin a proactive health-building journey.
We invite you to join us at our upcoming Tea & Talk on April 20th where we will talk all about Hormones. Register here.