Friday, February 5, 2010

Female Hormones In The Different Stages of Life

Many persons(men mostly) look at women as beings that are at the mercy of our hormonal cycles. No doubt, our hormones influence our lives greatly but for us to become slaves to them - I don't think so. I think that increasing our comprehension of the effects that our hormones have on our emotions, mind and body as women will make us more capable of lessening the negative and enhance the positive aspects. Let's take a look at the role hormones play in the different stages of our lives.

Infancy
The mass thought process is that hormones begin to kick in at puberty but during our early years they affect our bodies as well. Slightly enlarged breasts, with a few instances of a small bit of milk production can be seen in babies just born for example. This happens many times because of the female hormone, estrogen, that passes through the placenta during the time of the mother's pregnancy thus causing development of the breast in the newborn. A few weeks later it is no longer seen but in females there might be a reappearance in the first two years. This time the reappearance is because of the little girl's hormones affecting breast tissue. This may recur from time to time for a period of months or even years and then disappear during childhood.

Puberty

At this stage of development, hormones will commence to cause huge and lasting changes to a girl's body. Her breasts will become more pronounced and start to look like the breasts of an adult female. Underarm and pubic hair may be seen there will be a definite increase in height as the child experiences growth spurts. With few exceptions her periods will begin at a time when the growth spurt is starting to slow down. Puberty normally lasts for at least four years. Some girls may find that they have a hard time with the changes occurring in their body, emerging sexuality, the start of fertility and a the ups and downs of their emotions as they make the journey from being a child to becoming an adolescent.

Everything that is needed for the process of transitioning through puberty is there at birth, but doesn't manifest for many years. Inevitably, the hormones that before have not been active start to influence the young girl's body. There is a section of the brain known as the hypothalamus which begins to let go pulses of hormone, approximately every hour and a half. This releasing of hormones induces the pituitary gland (which is also located in the brain) to manufacture hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which then causes a female's ovaries to commence making other hormones.

Female sex hormones
The hormones of great significance produced by the ovaries are understood to be female sex hormones (sex steroids) and the two principal ones are estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries also manufacture some of the male hormone, testosterone. During the period of puberty, estrogen causes the breasts to develop and what happens is that the vagina, uterus (womb) and Fallopian tubes (that transport eggs to the womb) to complete its natural growth and development. In addition, estrogen has a part to play in the growth spurt and changes the apportioning of fat on a girl's body. This commonly causes more to be placed in the areas of the thighs, hips and buttocks. The hormone testosterone assists in the growth of muscles and bones.

From puberty forward, LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone all play a crucial role in regularizing a female's cycle of menstruation, which then consequently causes her periods. Every single hormone has its own way of operating, mounting and falling at different points in the cycle but in unison they result in a predictable chain of events. A single egg (out of hundreds of thousands in each ovary) gains maturity (becomes 'ripe')and is then released from the ovary to commence its trip down the Fallopian tube and into the womb. If that egg isn't fertilized, the levels of estrogen and progesterone manufactured by the ovary starts to decrease. If the supporting action of these hormones are not present, the lining of the womb, which is engorged with blood, is shed, resulting in a period.

Pregnancy

In the event that the egg released from the ovary is fertilized and the female becomes pregnant, the hormones transforms strikingly. The expected and normal decrease in estrogen and progesterone at the conclusion of the menstrual cycle does not take place and there is no period. A fresh and different hormone, HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), manufactured by the growing placenta, causes the ovaries to make the greater amounts of estrogen and progesterone that are necessary to sustain a pregnancy. The pregnancy testing kits that are sold are made in such a way that they can detect HCG in the urine of the woman's, and a lot of them can detect even minuscule quantities in as little as 24 hours or so subsequent to the first period that she missed.

When the pregnancy gets to the fourth month, the placenta becomes the main producer of estrogen and progesterone instead of the ovaries. The changes caused by these hormones are
  1. The lining of the womb gets thicker
  2. The amount of blood circulating (more specifically the blood that goes to the womb and breasts) increases
  3. The muscles of the womb relax adequately to accommodate the baby that is growing. 
At just about the time that the baby is ready to be born, there are other hormones that begin to activate to help the womb to contract in the process of and after labor is finished, as well as to cause the breast milk to be produced and released.
After childbirth
After the child is born the amounts of estrogen, progesterone and other hormones decreases rapidly, causing a some changes to take place physically. The womb of the mother decreases in size and reverts to its size before pregnancy, the muscle tone of the pelvic floor improves and the quantity of blood circulating in the body gets back to normal. The profound alterations in the hormone levels is known to contribute in the occurrence of cases of postnatal depression, although research has shown no significant differences in the hormone changes of females who experience, and do not experience postnatal depression. A possibility may be that hormonal variations affect some women more easily than other women.

While we're on the topic of hormonal fluctuations, despite the fact that they have been the subject of study for a number of years, it is still not known if they are to blame for the range of physical and psychological symptoms now called premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Most persons accept the fact that quite a number of women have felt tenderness in their breasts, bloating in their stomachs, feelings of irritability, low moods and other things as the time of menstruation approaches but as to whether these experiences are because of hormone fluctuations, changes in brain chemicals, social and emotional problems or a mix of all three is still being debated.

Menopause

The next momentous hormonal change for most women happens at about the time that they experience their last period. This is called menopause. Between 3 to 5 years approaching the last period, there is a gradual decline in the usual workings of her ovaries. As a result of this deterioration her cycle of menstruation becomes quite unpredictable or it gets shorter or it may get longer. Periods may end up being heavier or lighter in flow. Ultimately, such a small amount of estrogen is produced by the ovaries that the lining of the womb does not get thicker and thus periods stop completely.

For a greater part our lives as women, estrogen aids us in the protection of our heart and our bones, as well as preserving our bladder, vagina, breasts and womb in an optimally healthy condition. The noticeable reduction of estrogen in a woman's body that takes place at the time of menopause and after, can result in damaging effects on our health; as well as bringing about irritating and distressing symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats. The deficiency of estrogen can increase the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis as well. Other problems may be vaginal dryness, discomfort while having sex, repeated occurrences of urine infections and inability to restrain natural discharges or evacuations of urine or feces. It may also cause depression, irritability and poor concentration, which is experienced by some women who go through menopause. There is good news, the menopause doesn't have to be a time of great distress - if lessened levels of hormones create disagreeable symptoms, treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are said to be effective. One such company is seattle hcg diet clinic.   Herbs can also be employed as a means of prevention and cessation of women's health problems.

As we conclude this lengthy discourse we see that from the time we are born to the time we die, hormones have a very weighty role in the life of every woman. Hormones shape our physical structure in addition to some very significant experiences we go through such as menopause, pregnancy and childbirth. Many women curse their hormones, but rejoice in the fact that without our hormones our lives would be boring, dull, lifeless and uneventful.


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  1. i have been expieriencing these symptoms... thank you for posting this blog about menopause. i now fully realize that i am not alone

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