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Hormone Basics: What Every Girl and Woman Should Know 

Updated: May 28



It’s #womenshealthmonth and you should already know hormones are essential to the functioning of the female body, influencing everything from growth and metabolism to mood and reproductive health. Here's what every girl and woman should know about these powerful chemical messengers. 

 

There are so many hormones in the body, not just sex or reproductive hormones, that are involved in an intricate messaging system with how much energy cells can produce, appetite control (hunger and fullness), sleep function, such as Serotonin, Melatonin, Leptin, and Ghrelin. 

  

What Are Hormones? 

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by endocrine glands. They travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs, regulating many bodily processes, including: 

- Metabolism 

- Growth and development 

- Mood and cognitive function 

- Reproductive health 


There are so many hormones in the human body, not just sex or reproductive hormones, that are involved in an intricate messaging system based on how much energy cells can produce, appetite control (hunger and fullness), and sleep function. Some of these hormones include Serotonin, Melatonin, Leptin, and Ghrelin, however, today’s blog is dedicated to the reproductive hormones of girls and women.  

 

Key Hormones in Female Health 


  • Estrogen: The primary female sex hormone responsible for: 

    • development of secondary sexual characteristics (e.g., breast development 

    • Regulation of the menstrual cycle 

    • Bone health and cardiovascular function 

 

  • Progesterone: Produced mainly in the ovaries after ovulation, it: 

    • Prepares the uterus for pregnancy 

    • Supports early stages of pregnancy 

    • Helps regulate the menstrual cycle 

 

  • Testosterone: Though present in smaller amounts in women, it: 

    • Contributes to libido (sex drive) 

    • Affects energy levels and muscle strength 

  

  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH): 

    • Regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation 

  

  • Thyroid Hormones: Produced by the thyroid gland, they: 

    • Regulate metabolism (how your body uses food for energy) 

    • Influence energy levels and overall growth and development 

  

  • Insulin: Produced by the pancreas, it: 

    • Regulates blood sugar levels (reduces blood sugar after a meal) 

    • Manages energy storage 

  

Hormonal Changes Throughout Life 

  

  • Puberty

    • Increased production of estrogen and progesterone 

    • Development of secondary sexual characteristics 

    • Onset of menstruation 

  

  • Menstrual Cycle: 

    • Typically lasts about 28 days (can range from 21 to 35 days) 

    • Includes follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase 

    • Each phase is influenced by different hormonal changes 

  

  • Pregnancy: 

    • Significant rise in estrogen and progesterone levels 

    • Supports fetal development and prepares the body for childbirth 

  

  • Perimenopause: 

    • Transitional period before menopause, starting several years prior 

    • Hormone levels fluctuate, causing symptoms like irregular periods and hot flashes 

  

  • Menopause

    • Defined as the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months 

    • Significant drop in estrogen and progesterone 

    • Increased risk of health conditions like osteoporosis 

  

Common Hormonal Disorders 


  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): 

    • Excess androgens, irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts 

    • Symptoms include infertility, weight gain, and insulin resistance 

  

  • Fibroids: 

    • Estrogen dominant disorder 

    • Non-cancerous tumor growth of tissues found in and around the uterus seen in women of reproductive age

    • Causes painful, prolonged, heavy periods and often times gastrointestinal concerns

  • Thyroid Disorders: 

    • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) 

    • Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels) 

    • Affects metabolism, energy levels, and overall health 

 

  • Endometriosis: 

    • Tissue similar to the uterine lining grows outside the uterus 

    • Causes pain and can lead to infertility 

 

  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): 

    • Severe mood swings, physical symptoms, and emotional distress before menstruation 

  

Basics in Maintaining Hormonal Health 


  1. Balanced Healthy Diet:  Include whole plant-based foods: variety of fruits and vegetables, rich in healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, sea weed; whole grains and majority plant proteins – buckwheat, quinoa, beans, lentils and peas, and tofu.

  2. Regular Exercise: Helps to regulate cellular energy, hormone levels, and blood flow related to stress and metabolism.

  3. Adequate Sleep: Essential for detoxification, hormone production and regulation. Establishing a sleep routine and using holistic sleep aides can be helpful.

  4. Stress Management: Techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, massage, and vagus nerve stimulation can achieve some reduction in stress.

  5. Regular Wellness Check-ups: Routine healthcare visits to monitor hormonal health is imperative. Establish a relationship with your team such as your primary care provider, OBGYN, and your women's health dietitian.

  6. Clean Beauty & Household Items: reducing the toxic load is important in balancing your hormones. Endocrine disruptors are found in many beauty and household products. They disrupt your hormones and may negatively affect your reproductive and overall health.




Understanding your hormones and their effects on your body empowers you to take control of your health through all life stages. If you have concerns about hormonal issues, consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment. 

 

Need Personalized Expert Guidance? 


At 360Girls&Women® we are dedicated to providing the necessary tools and support to help you manage your hormonal health and overall wellbeing. Our team of healthcare professionals, including, physicians, registered dietitian, natural medicine doctors, mental health specialist, doula and lactation consultant is here to address your unique needs. Empower yourself with our comprehensive care and support for a healthier, balanced life. 

Contact us for more information about our comprehensive services. Book a Discover Call if you are ready to discuss your health goals and to see if we are a good fit.

 


Blog Medically reviewed by Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, NASM-CPT, Women's Health Dietitian, Wellness Practitioner, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Women's Fitness Specialist Certified Personal Trainer, & Founder - 360Girls&Women®

 

Sue-Ellen Anderson Haynes, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, NASM-CPT, founder of 360Girls&Women® Award Winning and Nationally recognized nutrition and food expert and leading global expert in Gestational Diabetes. "What makes us different?"

360 represents completion. At 360 G+W we provide personalized insight to help girls and women dramatically improve their wellbeing.​Our mission is to provide evidence-based information and services to help maximize a woman's complete health through the complete life-cycle - preventing, managing, and reversing certain reproductive and chronic illnesses- using nutrition as the foundation along with other innovative holistic practices. Read more.



References: 


Zacur, H.A. (2006), Hormonal Changes Throughout Life in Women. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 46: S50-S55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00554.x 

 

Women's Health: Hormones, Emotions and Behavior. (1998). United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 

 

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