What are hormones?
Hormones are the “chemical communicators or connectors” that carry messages to and from all the organs in the body. Inter-organ communication helps to keep the body balanced and functioning optimally. A hormone acts like a “key” that fits into a specific “lock” (a receptor site) at each organ.
However, the most important group of hormones for women are found in the ovaries. These secrete estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and it is the estrogen and progesterone that characterize a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle and are associated with PMS.
Hormones and your menstrual cycle
During the first half of the menstrual cycle there is an increase in estrogen, which leads to a state of well-being. This state of well-being is characterised by an optimal energy level, normal sleep, elevated mood, clear thought, sharp memory and the ability to concentrate. Estrogen has even been described as one of the best natural anti-depressants.
PMS (Premenstrual Mood Syndrome) is associated with a disruption in the level of progesterone levels in the body. Pregnancy, trauma and oral contraceptives can all cause progesterone to decrease.
Low progesterone causes a disruption in the fuel supply of glucose to the brain – which is the most fuel-demanding organ in the body. It is this decrease that contributes to the most common psychological and emotional symptoms of PMS.
Symptoms can include:
- An inability to concentrate
Premenopausal women usually gain some weight as they get closer to menopause because the body wants to produce and store estrogen in fat cells in anticipation of receiving less estrogen from the ovaries.
Create a healthy environment
By understanding the intricate connections between our behaviours and hormones, we can make changes to our lifestyles to create a healthier environment in which hormones can travel and communicate.
These changes can include:
- Getting enough exercise
- Following a healthy diet
- Medical check-ups, like measuring blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.
- Routine screenings, such as mammograms
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