WOMEN’S HORMONES 101: PART 1
Lost your libido? Exhausted all the time? Can’t concentrate? Weight loss resistant? Quick-tempered? Your body may be sending you the message that your hormones are having a hay day and wreaking havoc. If you have ever played the board game Mouse Trap, think of your hormones as the little metal balls that can cause chaos on the board. Women’s hormones 101 outlines the basics.
WHAT ARE HORMONES?
When in balance, women’s HORMONES are lightning-fast problem solvers.
They are molecules produced by your endocrine system. The hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls the endocrine system, is the master switchboard, and hormones are the body’s chemical messengers that travel throughout the body affecting many processes, how you function, + how you feel.
ARE MY HORMONES OUT OF BALANCE?
DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER.
When your hormones are out of balance, it is physically impossible to reach a state of optimal function – balanced, focused, feeling grounded, passionate, and playful, achieving your best results, and reaching your highest energetic potential (think, the peak of performance). Who knew hormones would be the key that unlocked so much good stuff?
As these potent chemicals circulate through your body, they stimulate cells with unique receptors for them – for example, estrogen (a sex hormone). There are receptors in virtually every tissue of the body, including the heart, gastrointestinal system, and brain. Without balance, that’s a whole lot of chaos waiting to happen.
Even though both sexes have the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, their effect is most often noticed or given attention when levels fluctuate drastically – for instance, in women, it’s the menstrual cycle or during perimenopause – the on-ramp to menopause that can come on for decades.
It’s our sex hormones that are often held accountable for turbulent ’40s and ’50s, except it’s more than just sex hormones that have hijacked our brain, body, desire, and drive. And, while we talk a ton of smack about high estrogen and low testosterone, you may be missing the stealthy chemical messengers that are keeping you from being energetic, healthy, fit, flirty, and happy.
HOW DOES STRESS IMPACT MY HORMONES?
IT’S MORE THAN YOUR SEX HORMONES; IT’S YOUR STRESS HORMONES.
Stress often gets a bad rap. But in truth, it’s our stress hormones that serve a vital function in our survival. If you can, for a moment, imagine that your stress hormones exist upstream from all the rest.
Have you ever been trying to change lanes in your car when suddenly, from your blind spot comes a car racing up at 90 miles an hour? You immediately return to the lane you were initially in. That’s the body’s stress response system and the associated stress hormones at work. In this case, we welcome the stress response.
But, what about when it’s your boss? You’ve had another bad day at work; you are tired and still stewing over the disagreement you had. You know that sex is a great way to relieve stress, so you go there. You try, but you just can’t get aroused. In this case, we don’t welcome our stress response, and the sex hormones they’re not working for you either.
The issue is that your body-brain doesn’t recognize the difference between a racing car or raging boss. Whatever the event, perceived negative experiences create a spontaneous stress response that only intensifies the more they are ingrained in us – whatever the causal factors (aka stressors) maybe.
From the top-down, the fight, flight, or freeze response takes over, dispersing the hormones that awaken your survival senses, giving you the energy to focus and get out of harm’s way. As with any stress response, a variety of other hormones are disrupted.
Today, it’s the long-term activation of our stress-response system and the overexposure to adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol that may very well be causing a vicious cycle, leading to imbalances downstream with our hormones, and a lagging libido may be just another one of the many signs that stress is the culprit.
So, when you think of women’s hormones, think safety first! Above all else, we are designed to survive by way of the release of our stress hormones. Thriving and feeling alive, welp, that’s another thing altogether. If you have noticed your body isn’t responding the way you would like it to, you don’t have the energy, you can’t lose the weight or the vitality that you desire isn’t there, it’s probably a safe bet that your stress and your sex hormones are out of balance. Your next best step in solving the problem may be to have some functional lab testing done and determine a course of action that brings your body-brain back into balance.
Want to learn more about women’s hormones 101? Be sure to sign-up and join us at our upcoming Tea & Talk all about hormones.