Four important hormones you should understand

Everyone has hormones.
 
You might know you have hormones, but you might not know the names of all of them, or what they do. When you are feeling tired and cranky, you might say you are feeling hormonal. Do you know which hormones are making you feel this way? Well, it’s not so much that a particular hormone is the cause of your issues, it’s probably that they are not in balance. 
 

Get to know your hormones

Here are the four hormones I think everyone should know more about.
 
  1. Cortisol – the ‘fight or flight’ hormone
  2. Progesterone – the ‘calm and soothe’ hormone
  3. Oestrogen – the hormone that focuses on ‘growth and energy’
  4. Melatonin – the hormone that helps us ‘rest and sleep’
Hormones are also a complex and responsive bio-feedback system. This simply means that our hormones are not produced in isolation from each other. They are secreted by endocrine glands and communicate with each other to regulate growth, metabolism and function.

Four important hormones you should know

1. Cortisol

Our adrenal cortex releases cortisol whenever we have to rush somewhere or respond to something quickly. When we have to do this too often or for too long, it can cause insomnia and suppressed immune function. It can also contribute to progesterone deficiency.

2. Progesterone

Progesterone is one of our reproductive hormones and is important for pregnancy. It’s also a brain hormone and nervous system hormone. This is why it’s calming, and helps with adapting to stress. Progesterone is created by the corpus luteum as part of the ovulation cycle and is dominant for the second part of the menstrual cycle (also known as the luteal phase). It lowers dramatically a couple of days before menstruation, which can cause premenstrual tension. Progesterone levels change along with oestrogen during perimenopause, which can lead to a decreased ability to cope with stress at that time.

3. Oestrogen

Oestrogen is the hormone most often associated with ovulation and is produced mainly in the ovaries. Ovulation doesn’t happen without oestrogen. When it’s in balance, oestrogen is a very positive hormone, as it supports mood, sleep and libido. Oestrogen receptors are very sensitive during the teenage years which can lead to heavy periods for a while. Oestrogen can also fluctuate during perimenopause, leading to hot flushes and insomnia with oestrogen deficiency, or breast tenderness and irritability when it’s dominant.

4. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by our pineal gland in response to darkness. It helps control the sleep-wake cycle. Blue light from phones and other devices suppress melatonin production. Not enough sleep contributes to inflammation, and affects hormones and metabolism as well as causing irritability and poor concentration.

Hormonal balance

Hormones naturally fluctuate, as they react to stress, light, dark, and each other. They also need energy and sufficient calories, protein, fat and carbohydrate. Studies have indicated key nutrients for hormonal health include iodine, zinc, magnesium and B vitamins, especially. Proper rest, and good sleep, are essential foundations for health, and this includes hormones. Research shows that respect for circadian rhythms is a part of that.

Not a complete list

This list is four important hormones I think all women should be aware of. It’s far from being a complete list. If there’s something here you are looking for support with, please feel free to get in touch.

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