Women have long endured the misconception that they are the fair and fragile sex, when in truth their bodies and emotions are just as, if not more, complex than men's. When women look to better their health, not only are they doing it for themselves, but to nurture generations to come.
Women’s health encompasses more than general mental and physical health – women must also look at hormonal health.
Hormones are chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system and released into the bloodstream. An imbalance occurs when there is too much or too little of one or more hormones.
Most women are aware of sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which influence health from menstruation to pregnancy to menopause and more. But did you know that women also make other hormones that impact their energy, hair, skin, weight, mood, and more?
Female hormones are responsible for regulating countless life processes, which is why even the slightest imbalance can have a noticeable effect on health and wellbeing.
While it is natural for hormones to fluctuate during different milestones of the female journey, they can also be influenced by diet, health, and exercise. Being aware of the changes or symptoms your body experiences can help you adjust your lifestyle and restores better hormone balance. Here are some key hormones to be aware of and the symptoms an imbalance may produce.
Adrenaline – Also known as epinephrine, this hormone is mainly generated in the adrenal glands as part of stress response – specifically, the fight-or-flight response. The release of adrenaline triggers a flow of impulses that delivers more oxygen and blood to cells in muscles, causing a temporary increase in strength, performance, and awareness.
Adrenaline is an important survival tool but is also produced in response to mental or emotional stress when no real danger is present. At these times, it can trigger light-headedness, dizziness, restlessness, and irritability. Chronic over-production of adrenaline can lead to heart damage, adrenal weakness, insomnia, and a jittery, nervous feeling.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) – This hormone is released by the pituitary gland as a response to stress. The production of ACTH triggers the production of cortisol, another stress-related hormone. High levels of ACTH trigger high levels of cortisol.
Cortisol – Often known as the stress hormone, cortisol is a major player in your stress response but also serves other roles. Cortisol helps regulate blood sugar, controls inflammation, contributes to the formation of memories and fetal development, etc. However, excess cortisol can damage the brain, cause weight gain, and affect the libido and menstrual cycle.
Estrogen – Is one of two primary female sex hormones, the other being progesterone. Estrogen is responsible for most of the feminine factors and features of the female body. It is a key component of puberty and menstruation, and helps balance cholesterol, supports bone health, and affects other parts of the body like the brain, heart, and skin.
Estrogen levels go through natural fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, being lowest during the period and highest in the cycle's middle. They can also rise or fall due to diet, lifestyle and synthetic estrogens getting into your body.
Symptoms of low estrogen include infrequent periods, trouble sleeping, headaches, vaginal dryness, reduced sexual desire, and dry skin. Symptoms of high estrogen include weight gain, menstrual issues like light or heavy bleeding, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of sex drive, and fibrocystic breasts or fibroids in the uterus.
Depending on the stage of life, different types of estrogens are produced more prominently. Estradiol is most common in non-pregnant, menstruating women, Estriol when pregnant, and Estrone takes the stage after menopause.
Insulin – Insulin deposits glucose in cells, where it can be converted to energy molecules like ATP. Most people are familiar with insulin through its connection to diabetes. Diabetes is the result of being unable to produce enough insulin to deposit glucose loads in cells. Symptoms of low insulin include fatigue, increased thirst, and vision problems.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) – LH is vital to ensuring a healthy reproductive system in both men and women. In women, it stimulates the ovaries to produce estradiol, initiates ovulation, and stimulates progesterone during pregnancy.
High levels of luteinizing hormone in women are often linked to PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and may result in infertility. Low levels can limit or stop ovulation and also result in infertility.
Progesterone – Is the other primary female sex hormone. Progesterone prepares the endometrium for pregnancy, helping build the thick lining of the uterus before ovulation. If no pregnancy occurs, progesterone declines and the uterus sheds the lining through menstruation. If pregnancy does transpire, progesterone levels remain high to maintain the uterine environment to house the growing fetus. The high level of progesterone during pregnancy also prevents ovulation – keeping more eggs from being produced during pregnancy.
Low progesterone can cause irregular periods or difficulty conceiving because the uterus will be unable to support fetal growth. Symptoms of low progesterone include irregular or missed periods, spotting, abdominal pain during pregnancy, and raise the risk of miscarriage.
Testosterone – Although this is primarily a male hormone, women also make small amounts. In women, too much testosterone can cause acne, balding, excess body and facial hair, low libido, irregular periods, and reduction in breast size. Extreme levels can even lead to infertility and obesity.
Thyroid Hormones – Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are hormones produced by the thyroid gland. These hormones are primary players for regulating your weight, energy, internal temperature, skin, hair, nail growth, and more. Hyperthyroidism can result when there is too much T3. This is known as thyrotoxicosis, which can cause weight loss, increased appetite, palpitations, irregular menstrual cycle, tiredness, irritability, and hair thinning.
Hypothyroidism occurs when not enough thyroid hormones are produced. This produces symptoms like tiredness, mental depression, feeling cold, weight gain, dry skin, constipation, and menstrual irregularities.
Female Support Factors
Knowing about your hormones is only half the battle. The best way to help your body maintain a good hormonal balance is through a well-balanced diet, moderate exercise, and supportive multivitamins and herbs.
Pure Essence has a long history of providing supplements rich in female support factors, like Dong Quai and Kudzu. In 1998, our very first aspiration was to provide supplements that support perimenopause and menopause. Over twenty years later, we have some of the world's finest supplements for women including two perimenopausal/menopausal support supplements, three women-specific multivitamins, and two pre-natal and one post-natal formulas.*
Each comprehensive multivitamin formula contains an unparalleled combination of whole organic foods, botanicals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals along with specific feminine support factors. They are designed to support hormone balance and offer maximum comfort when managing any challenge that comes with the various stages of a woman’s health. With something for everything, we make it easy to give your body the nutrients it needs.*