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What are hormones?

AND which ones should you really know about?

There are over 50 identified hormones in the human body (don’t worry, we aren’t talking about them all today!). Hormones are chemical messengers that travel in the blood communicating with organs and tissues.

Generally, men and women have the same variety, however concentrations, behaviours and production sites differ. These factors, along with the reproductive organs are so important when addressing female health concerns. You will have heard of the usual female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, we will return to these. Have you heard of oxytocin, cortisol or insulin before? These messengers are often overlooked but play an incredibly potent support act for your sex hormones.

Oxytocin is ‘the love’ hormone and its main role is in reproduction, however its subtle reach is far and wide. Oxytocin is like the aroma of yummy cooking….it doesn’t directly affect the meal but when it is surging through the house, everyone comes to see what’s cooking! Oxytocin flow gives you a big step up with your sex hormone health. Holding your child, falling in love, snuggling a pet and spending time with those you care about all release oxytocin. Get it whenever you can, it will help your hormones!

Cortisol is your stress hormone. It is important in small doses. In constant or large doses cortisol will bulldoze your sex hormones and sabotage your health. It will spike your blood sugar, encourage belly fat, disturb your sleep, cause cognitive unrest and age you like a grape in the desert!

We can’t avoid stress, but we must must must manage it. The number one way women these days are flaring their cortisol is rushing. Just because you are good at multi-tasking and your schedule is packed with stuff you enjoy, rushing around is like intravenous cortisol. Slow Down!

Insulin is released from the pancreas when you consume carbohydrates, so it can shuttle the glucose into your cells. Go Insulin (air punch!). More glucose = More insulin. More insulin is a problem (no air punch!). If you continue to produce more insulin your cells begin to ‘ignore’ it (like a nagging spouse). Eventually this becomes insulin resistance (IR), your metabolic flexibility nose dives and your sex hormones tank. Fat loss is almost impossible, and your cells are literally being starved (because they can’t receive their fuel), especially your brain because glucose is its main power source (although your brain also likes ketones but thats another chat).

Reducing your sugar and/or carbohydrate intake and moving, are the 2 most effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity (ie. listening to your spouse again!), gain metabolic flexibility, burn fat and support your brain health.

So…in summary, these 3 messengers are super important alongside Oestrogen and Progesterone.

A quick summary of both O & P.

Oestrogen is important for: • A healthy metabolism • The ability to lose fat around your waist • Insulin sensitivity • Muscle mass/strength • Mojo (your get up & go!) • Acting as an appetite suppressant • Anti-ageing • Balancing mood • Vaginal health • Natural anti-inflammatory

Progesterone is important for: • Balancing oestrogen levels • Calming the brain • Reducing inflammation • Supporting immune health • Assisting heart health • Increasing metabolic rate • Joy!

In reproductive age women, these 2 play a beautiful dance each month.

Oestrogen takes the lead in week 1-2, peaking before ovulation (this is when we are less hungry, more productive, stronger and hornier 😉 – see above list). Then progesterone (should) skyrocket after ovulation, as oestrogen drops (this is where we may feel hot, have cravings & feel weaker). Hormonal fluctuations are normal and once we understand them it’s liberating & confidence building. If you are not tracking your cycles, start today. I use Natural Cycles but there are others.

Things to think about after reading this:

  • If you are not experiencing monthly cycles and are below 40-45, you should be (specific cases aside, ie. surgery induced menopause)

  • If you are experiencing severe monthly symptoms, your hormones are trying to tell you something.

  • If you think you are peri-menopausal or menopausal and are suffering, your hormones are trying to tell you something.

This was a brief but hopefully informative hormone low down. Maybe this is the start of you logging your cycle & learning about your beautiful body. Or maybe this is the point at which you need further support. I want you to know…it is out there.

Get in touch. I can help or signpost.

There is so much that can be done to return your joy. There is an ebb & flow to being a female but suffering can be mitigated.

References: Books: The Rushing Womans Syndrome – Dr Libby Weaver / Womens Bodies: Womens Wisdom – Dr Christiane Northrup / Hormone Repair Manual – Lara Briden

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