How can hormones influence a woman’s life?
HORMONES IN THE DIFFERENT PHASES OF A WOMAN’S LIFE: friends or foes?
By Dr Vania Martins- Gynecologist and Masters in Reproductive Health (GMC: 7055434)
How often have you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought: ‘I’ve put on some weight, but I have not changed my diet, I exercise and do not eat at night!’ or ‘It’s horribly hot in here. Does anyone else feel it?’ or ‘I’m in a bad mood now, I don’t want to talk to anyone today.’ I bet you’ve already felt like this. What is going on?
Maybe you have already asked yourself why one moment you’re so happy and the next you are irritable, have a headache and cannot concentrate in your work and not as much as get close to your partner and has no patience with your children or your friends. These are such disparate feelings that it seems that they decided to sabotage you in a kind of feelings mutiny.
We, women, have a number of hormones circulating in our bodies. They are all essential but at times they turn against and sabotage us. Have you understood me yet? I am telling you that your hormones will always influence your life.
The sudden mood changes can be more intense in the following times: pre-adolescence, pregnancy, pre-menstrual period (PMT), in the period leading to or during menopause itself.
What do hormones cause?
Depending on their hormonal levels, women can suffer insomnia, mood changes, nervousness and irritability, anxiety, depression, weight gain or loss, lack of or excessive menstruation, among other things.
MAIN FEMALE HORMONES:
Oestrogen (Hormone of the Feminine Beauty):
The hormone of beauty (Aphodite, goddess of beauty and feminility) is responsible for regulating menstrual cycles, it helps in the development of the breasts, regulates the reproductive functions (ovulation, regular menstrual cycles) and protects women from heart problems (like angina and heart attacks). A decrease in the levels of this hormone can, for example, lead to depression, a feeling of deep sadness and isolation, lack of energy and a lack of sexual interest.
Oestrogen is the dominant hormone in the first half of the menstrual cycle. It normally makes the woman more active, with stable mood, more careful to her appearance, more sociable, extrovert, dynamic and socially involved.
Progesterone is produced in the ovarium after the ovulation and is considered the hormone of gestation because it prepares the uterus for the gestation. The progesterone acts by making the uterus receptive to the embryo and it also raises the woman’s body temperature. In this phase, if the ovulation has taken place, you will feel calmer, you will also feel as if you had a light fever and a bit sleepy and the libido will diminish a little. Negative changes can include excessive oily skin, acne and a change in the bodily smells which makes the woman become less sexually attractive. These are all natural defense mechanisms and are caused by a probable pregnancy.
Testosterone (Hormone of the Strength)
If the woman has high levels of testosterone, they can cause the following signs and symptoms: increase in skin oleosity and appearance of severe acne, hair growth on the face, chin and nipples, the voice gets graver, irregular menstrual cycles with longer cycles (over 35 days between periods) or the disapperance of cycles altogether and an agressive behaviour. If the levels become too low, there will be a decrease in the libido, loss of muscular mass and flabbyness.
Prolactin (Hormone of the Breast Feeding)
This hormone is responsible for milk production, it hepls bring in that feeling of well being and a concern with other people. But if this hormone increases outside of the times of pregnancy or breast feeding, the woman can have problems in her mesntrual cycles, put on weight, have headaches and vision problems since this hormone is produced by the pituitary gland that is located inside the head.
Thyroid Hormones (Hormones of Metabolism)
When the production of thyroid hormones is insufficient, the woman will suffer with hypothyroidism, this will will slow down all the bodily functions: the heart will have a slower rhythim and trapped wind can occur. Other simptoms could include memory loss, excessive tiredness, muscle and joint pains, drowsiness, dryness of sin, an increase of the levels of total cholestherol and of the bad cholestherol in the blood and the worst effect of all, a severe depression. In reality, the body in this situation tries to shut off since it perceives that there is no fuel to burn (lack of the thyroid hormone).
If there is excessive production of the thyroid hormone, the opposite happens- hyperthyrodism. In this case, all in the body starts to fuction faster: the heart speeds, there are diahorreas; agitation (non stop talking), too much gesticulating, insomnia and a constant need to burn energy but at the same time a feeling of tiredness.
What most affect women are the hormonal fluctuations because the unbalance can increase the levels of stress and depression, cause obesity and low self-esteem, weak chapped nails, skin discoloration (melasmas) and much more.
Hormones in the adolescence (Puberty)
All the changes in the body of teenage girls; the growing of the breasts, the broadening of the hips, the appearance of hair in the armpits and pubis and finally, the event of menstruation, can leave the teenage girls a bit confused about all the physiological changes that are taking place in their bodies. Often she will feel insecure and in conflict, for instance, when she can’t decide whether she still wants to play as a girl or whether she starts to develop a more mature behaviour. This ambiguity can bring about irritation, depression, rebellion and alienation towards parents and psychossomatic deseases are a way of calling out attention and fights with family members. That is whi its so important that the parents strive to keep their children close by and support them during this process of changes of their new bodies and feelings. The changes cited above normally occur because of the production of the hormones estrogen and progesteron by the ovaries and also because of the androgen hormones (masculine hormones produced by the suprarenal glands.
Pre-Menstrual Tension- (PMT)
During the PMT the body sees an increase in the retention of liquids. This can lead to a cerebral oedema and trigger all the emotional symptoms of this phase. The main symptoms are irritation, nervousness, sadness, swelling of the legs, headaches, difficulty in concentrating among others that are very common during the pre menstrual period. The use of some hormonal medications can correct the hormonal fluctuations of this period and bring about some physical and emotional wellbeing. Try to keep your hormonal levels constant. Suggestions: avoid foods that are rich in refined sugars, deep fried foods, milky chocolates and also practise aerobic exercises and meditation, dance and cultivate your spirituality.
Hormones can make the pregnant woman emotional, sensitive and anxious with the feeling that her body is ugly or that she is too fat. All this occurs because the hormone levels increase a lot at this time. During pregnancy, several hormones are produced in high quantity like the progesteron (keep the pregnancy), prolactin (prepares the breasts for breast feeding) and the thyroid hormones (the neck thickens).
In the Menopause
At about the age of 45 to 50, the menstruation in most women stops. This is called menopause. Normally, already in the pre-menstrual period (climaterio) the hot flushes get very severe and are alternated with sensations of cold. In many cases, women will have weight increase with deposition of fat mostly around the hips and belly. There is a decrease of the libido, vaginal dryness (burning sensation during sexual act), insomnia, a tendency towards Alzheimer and dementia, depression, osteoporosys, repetitive urinary infection. This is why its so important to have hormonal replacement therapies in order to keep the body in balance. The skin of the woman that adopts hormonal replacement can look younger, silky and soft since the estrogen hormone is responsable for the elasticity of the skin.
It is important that we know how the hormones act in our bodies and stimulate certain attitudes. But it is worth mentioning that self control is the best way of keeping a balance and not allowing your day to turn into something exhaustive and unhappy. That is why we, women, must act sensibly and wisely and not take advantage of the situation of uncontrolled hormones in order to distill anger, feuds and arguments. We need to have self control in order to promote balance in our lives and family unity around us and around those we love