Hormones – What are they and how do they affect your body? 

Excessive sweating, crying spells, getting fierce, suddenly being irritated by someone’s behavior, having a short temper, being sad… Every woman can probably identify with one of these characteristics at least once. This may come on suddenly and be over the next day, or you may suffer from this for several days. All of this is largely influenced by your HORMONES.  

– In this blog, I (Jacqueline Steenbeek, Hormone therapist) would like to discuss with you how big the influence of hormones is on our functioning. In the following blogs, I will discuss hormones in more detail in relation to getting pregnant and hormones in the first trimester of pregnancy. –

What exactly are hormones?

What exactly are your hormones? You know they have a big influence on a lot of things. But what exactly do they influence and can we still have control over this ourselves? 

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Hormones are small substances in our body that control and inhibit everything in our body. They provide a kind of communication between all organs. Compare it to a big orchestra like André Rieu’s. André Rieu (the conductor) directs the musicians so that they can play together in harmony. A great orchestra as a result. This is also how our bodies are controlled. A small organ in our head (hypothalamus) controls all organs through hormones, allowing our body (hopefully!) to play together in harmony. Is this disturbed? Then physical and mental complaints can arise or even diseases can develop.  

The dozens of hormones that are constantly at work in your body affect all functions and organs. Think of your breathing, metabolism, movement, responsiveness, addiction, thoughts, feeling happy, sad, angry, jealous, anxious, you name it. Therefore, for your own happiness, it is important that your body is in complete homeostasis, in complete balance.  

Now let our body be exactly designed for HAPPINESS! Our bodies contain many “feel good” substances that can give you the feeling of happiness. The trick is for us to use these hormones in the best possible way. 

Hormone fluctuations

As we all know, women in their fertile period (from the first menstruation to menopause) experience monthly hormone fluctuations. At the beginning of the cycle, the hormone estrogen in particular is high, and from ovulation (halfway through the cycle) the progesterone in your body also increases. In order to understand your own cycle and the symptoms that occur during your cycle, it is important to understand what is happening in your body each month.  

A monthly cycle is meant to get your body ready to conceive each month. Of course, our body does not want to make use of that every month, so often the female egg is not fertilized, disappears and the hormones will recover to create another opportunity to conceive for the next month.  

In the first two weeks of a new cycle, the hormone FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) causes another egg to develop for the new ovulation. During these weeks, the hormone Estrogen is high in its levels. You can then often feel good, stable, and feel comfortable about yourself. After 2 weeks, FSH and Estrogen are at their peak and ovulation occurs under the guidance of LH (Luteinizing hormone). The egg is released to be fertilized. As a result, the hormone progesterone will also now rise in your body. 

The influence of progesterone

Did you know that progesterone also affects the production of your thyroid hormones? This mechanism causes your temperature to rise 0.5°C after ovulation. If you did not conceive a week after ovulation, then estrogen and progesterone levels will start to drop and the endometrium will get ready to loosen and cleanse (which will later be menstruation). This is a signal for the body to turn the immune system “on” a little more. After all, a small wound has already formed in the uterus. If your immune system is not working optimally, it will directly affect your cycle. Because of this change in hormones and the tightening of the immune system, various complaints can arise each month, think of: depression, mood swings, fatigue, sore breasts, muscle soreness, etc. Therefore, these complaints will mainly arise a few days/ up to a week before your period, also called premenstrual complaints.  

In addition, fluctuations in hormone levels differ in each individual woman. In one woman estrogen levels will be much higher than in another, similarly, progesterone levels may be much lower in one woman than in another fertile woman.  

The more stable your estrogen and progesterone levels are during each monthly cycle and the more they play together as an organized orchestra, the fewer symptoms you will experience. If these monthly estrogen and progesterone levels are not stable and in balance, you may experience symptoms such as heavy bleeding, short or long periods, abdominal pain, depression, acne, bloating, and even miscarriage if the egg is fertilized.

Factors that affect your cycle

There are a number of factors that affect your monthly cycle and thus the stability of your hormones. Many factors are even within your control. Factors that influence your cycle and thus can cause disturbances and complaints are: 

1. Genes (which genes did you get from your parents and how were you “programmed” at birth). 
2. Metabolism (how well does your insulin work).
3. Stress 
4. Nutrition  
5. Lifestyle 
6. Functioning of the other hormones in your body. 

Besides point 1, it is possible to address all other factors. If you become aware of these factors and improve them, you will immediately notice a difference in your monthly cycle. Premenstrual symptoms can be reduced or even disappear.  

Do you want more advice and tips about this? Stay tuned for the next blog! 

Obstetrician, Hormone Therapist, Owner Baby Glimpse, and Mom of 2 beautiful children.

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