'These are all hormones': how hormones affect the behavior and health of a woman
Hormones appear in conversations about the peculiarities of the behavior of female people - as the causes of negative emotional reactions, disagreement or conflict. We understand what features of women's behavior and self-awareness can be explained by cycles of female hormones, in which cases it is incorrect and how to notice real signs of hormonal disorders that require a visit to a doctor.
The stereotype that women have been living with emotions, probably for more than one hundred years, writes Нож. Empathy, anxiety, the ability to blame yourself for everything and empathize with all living things are considered typical female abilities. Men traditionally seem to many to be less emotional, less anxious, and more prone to aggression. But still, it’s not worth generalizing: all people are different, and in the behavior of an individual, not gender, but personality type plays a much larger role. Among women, "iron ladies" are often found, and among men there are a lot of emotional, gentle and compassionate - and with hormones in some and in others everything is in order.
ICP cannot be a universal explanation.
One of the main theories of the occurrence of premenstrual syndrome considers it to be an inadequate response of a woman's body to a change in the ratio of sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) at the end of the menstrual cycle.
Violation of the perception of hormonal fluctuations leads to the appearance of unpleasant symptoms, which primarily bring inconvenience to the woman herself. But this fact does not give a reason to write off what you do not like in the behavior of a particular woman to PMS: it does not occur as often as many people think.
Yes, weakness, swelling of the mammary glands, heaviness in the lower abdomen, headache and increased appetite on the eve of menstruation occur in 90% of female people - but this is not PMS yet. Only 10% of women are familiar with real PMS, which seriously affects their well-being and emotional state.
In the latest international classification of diseases (ICD 10), you won't find PMS, only premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a serious disorder that often requires treatment. It is even rarer: in 3% of cases.
If PMDD violates everyday life, regularly plunges into depression, forces to take “sick leave”, take painkillers with “bundles”, refuse sex and entertainment - the help of a doctor is needed. But only three women out of a hundred suffer from it: in order to understand the behavior of the remaining ninety-seven, you will have to think and search for more rational arguments.
Depression after childbirth is not just a bad mood, but a serious problem
But another disorder caused by sharp hormonal fluctuations due to the end of the period of gestation and childbirth, that is, postpartum depression, is ignored by the majority.
For some reason, women with babies are often credited with associating an incredibly happy state with the same tenacity as PMS is with women without babies.
Nevertheless, according to the WHO, every sixth newly-made mother, precisely because of this illness, is not only unhappy after giving birth to a child, but is also in a state of clinical depression that is dangerous to health and life.
Symptoms of postpartum depression:
- discouragement and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- lethargy, apathy, weakness
- impaired appetite
- sleep problems
- decreased concentration and memory impairment
- increased levels of anxiety, tearfulness
- feeling of insignificance, worthlessness
- anxiety and guilt about not loving the child
- suicidal thoughts.
Postpartum depression is a real serious problem. A woman suffering from this disorder needs understanding, support and treatment. Otherwise, depression can last for years and lead to other serious health problems.
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Emotional disorders after abortion - a medical problem
The fact of the existence of post-abortion depression is recognized by few.
According to many, a woman who decides to have an abortion does not deserve compassion, and her "whims" look, to put it mildly, strange. Nevertheless, there are many studies confirming the relationship between abortion and psycho-emotional disorders.
Abortion six times increases the risk of suicide and provokes various disorders, in the first place - the development of depression and anxiety disorders with panic attacks. Therefore, post-abortion rehabilitation includes not only the normalization of the functions of the reproductive system impaired by abortion, but also the restoration of the woman's psycho-emotional state.
Both post-abortion and postpartum depression are associated with a dramatic change in hormonal levels and the "disadvantageous" ratio of estrogen and progesterone.
But this is not all hormones that can affect the psycho-emotional state of a woman. Hot temper, aggressiveness and anxiety can be the result of an increase in the amount of thyroid hormones and the hormone of the adrenal glands - cortisol. Hypothyroidism, or reduced thyroid hormone production, on the contrary, leads to apathy, lack of initiative and a slow reaction.
What problems are really associated with female hormones
The most important female hormones are estrogen and progesterone.
This is a collective concept that combines three hormones: estradiol, estrone and estriol.
Thanks to estrogen, a woman becomes and remains a woman's whole life: they are responsible for the development of the mammary glands, the distribution of body hair by the female type, stimulate the growth of the uterus and other reproductive organs, regulate the menstrual cycle, participate in childbirth. Estrogens are mainly formed by ovarian follicles and very little in the adrenal cortex and other organs.
The strongest of them is estradiol, in women of childbearing age, its level dominates over others. With the onset of menopause, estriol, which has a weak effect, begins to predominate - it deprives a woman of many of the “benefits” that estrogens gave at a young age. So, with the onset of menopause, the skin quickly fades, the bones lose their strength, and the risk of atherosclerosis, as well as heart attacks and strokes associated with it, increases.
Interestingly, estrogen receptors are found not only in the genitals, but also in the mammary glands, urethra, liver, brain. When the amount of hormones changes, they begin to work differently, which sometimes affects their state of health and state of health.
It also forms in the ovaries, in the corpus luteum, which forms on the site of a bursting follicle in the second half of the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone is called the hormone of pregnancy, because thanks to it, in the second phase of the menstrual cycle, the uterine mucosa is prepared to receive a fertilized egg. It is progesterone produced by the corpus luteum that controls pregnancy in the early stages.
Brain: hypothalamus and pituitary gland
The work of the ovaries is coordinated by the endocrine centers of the brain - the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. They also produce hormones and with their help affect the synthesis of estrogen and progesterone.
The follicle-stimulating hormone of the pituitary gland triggers the maturation of the follicles and controls the synthesis of estrogens.
Luteinizing hormone pushes the egg to the exit and ensures the formation of the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone.
Prolactin is also produced in the pituitary gland. It is responsible for lactation, but at the same time indirectly affects the functioning of the ovaries by inhibiting their activity. If prolactin levels increase outside of pregnancy, the ovaries stop working properly, making it harder to conceive.
Male hormones: testosterone
In the body of a woman, as in men, androgens are formed, in particular testosterone. Testosterone is mainly synthesized by the adrenal cortex and is responsible for the libido, strength, endurance and sense of purpose, the ratio and distribution in the body of muscle and adipose tissue. Female testosterone is an intermediate product in the process of estradiol formation. If follicle maturation is impaired, testosterone remains unclaimed for the synthesis of estrogen. Its amount in the body increases, which leads to the appearance and exacerbation of male features.
Unfortunately, many people believe that menstruation is why they are called "monthly", that they should come strictly once a month, on certain dates.
In fact, the duration of the menstrual cycle for each woman is individual: for some - 21 day, for others - 34 day. Everything between these numbers is a variant of the norm.
To find out the length of the cycle, you need to count how many days elapse between the first day of one menstruation and the first day of the next. If the monthly period begins once in 36 or more days, or, on the contrary, they arrive earlier than in 21 a day, and if the difference in the duration of the cycles is more than 2 – 3 days, then you should consult a doctor. The reason for the violations - hormonal disruptions.
Menstruation with a duration of less than three or more 7 days, both too scarce and abundant, as well as the appearance of blood in the middle of the menstrual cycle, also speak of problems with hormones. All this is a reason to go to the doctor.
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Decrease in sexual desire
Women libido regulate estradiol and testosterone. Estrogens that prevail in the body until ovulation in the middle of the menstrual cycle, improve health, improve mood, push to flirt. Studies show that a decrease in the number of estrogens, as is the case when ovarian function dies out during menopause, leads to a decrease in sexual interest (and taking hormones for replacement purposes has a beneficial effect on the sexual life of women of menopausal age).
The effect of testosterone on the sexual activity of women is not fully understood, and the opinions of scientists about the role of androgens in female sexuality differ. Some people see a direct connection between the peak of testosterone and increased libido during the ovulation period, while others consider heightened sexuality as a result of the influence of estrogen.
Many agree that androgens increase the effect of estrogens, and prescribe menopause for low doses of male hormones in addition to estrogens.
Theoretically, male hormones should make a woman more determined in finding a sexual partner and in sex.
Many pharmaceutical companies have invested considerable resources in the development of "female Viagra" on the basis of testosterone: taking a large dose of the hormone increases libido, but we cannot talk about the constant use of the drug.
Today, doctors do not approve the use of androgens on an ongoing basis and do not see any particular prospects in the development of methods for increasing female sexuality by male hormones.
Many women blame hormones for those extra pounds, and partly they are right: hormones do affect weight.
Studies show that estrogens increase tissue sensitivity to insulin, accelerate glucose utilization and prevent its conversion to fat. Reducing the amount of estrogen, as it happens during pregnancy or during menopause, increases the likelihood of insulin resistance: the cells stop digesting glucose that enters the blood after eating - and the body that wants to normalize blood sugar levels has to be “distilled” into fat.
Estrogens regulate appetite through the hormone leptin, produced by adipose tissue and controlling meals and satiety. If estrogen is low, the amount of leptin is reduced, and this provokes hunger and, as a consequence, the consumption of large amounts of food.
The effect of progesterone on fat metabolism has been little studied. Probably, this hormone increases insulin production, which leads to a decrease in blood sugar levels and a feeling of hunger. All these factors in combination with high-calorie nutrition and a decrease in physical activity cause extra kilograms to appear.
A decrease in the influence of estrogen leads not only to the accumulation of fat, but to its local deposition in the abdomen and around the internal organs. Doctors call it visceral obesity and see it as a great health hazard. Internal fat disrupts the functioning of organs and changes metabolic processes, in particular, contributes to the development of type XNUMX diabetes.
If your waist suddenly began to disappear and its circumference exceeded 80 cm, this indicates that fat is deposited inside the abdomen. Some scientists see a way to compensate for the missing effects of estrogen with hormonal drugs. But this is only as a last resort. In the first place, as always, healthy nutrition, daily activity and sport.
Premature skin aging
If a woman is not yet a dozen, and her skin suddenly became dry, dull and flabby, covered with a net of small wrinkles and pigment spots, if thin veins of blood vessels appeared on it - this is a reason to check hormonal background.
All of these changes are typical for ladies 45 – 50 years, entering into menopause, but not for young women. The cause of wilting of the skin at a young age can be a disruption of the ovaries or their depletion (early menopause).
The skin is an estrogen sensitive organ. It has a huge number of receptors that interact with estrogen, so reducing the effect of these hormones largely determines the deterioration of its condition.
Estrogens stimulate the cells and their reproduction. With a decrease in their effect on the epidermis, the skin becomes dry, begins to peel off, becomes covered with acne and pimples. Changes in the cells that produce melanin, leads to the appearance of pigmented and discolored spots on the skin. And if the synthesis of collagen and elastin slows down and the skin frame weakens, noticeable premature wrinkles may appear.
Hair is also able to suffer from a lack of estrogen: they become thin, lifeless, begin to fall out. Nails get thinner and growing them out is a real challenge.
With a decrease in the level of estrogen, the endocrinologist selects hormonal preparations containing synthetic estrogen and progesterone analogues, which will compensate for the deficit of their own hormones. Against the background of such treatment, the skin is really getting younger. The downside is that the use of artificial hormones is not suitable for everyone because of their undesirable effects.
There is a practice of external use of estrogens in the form of creams. But cosmetics with hormones are banned in Russia: everything that contains them automatically falls into the category of “drugs”.
The output can be phytoestrogens - vegetable analogues of hormones that produce the ovaries. Cosmetics with them are already on the shelves and sold without a prescription.
Oily skin, acne and acne
It has long been known: how much chocolate you eat, eels will not appear from it. The nature of the diet has little effect on the activity of the sebaceous glands and, moreover, does not affect the appearance of black spots on the nose and cheeks. The cause of these ills is a reduction in the effect of estrogen and an increase in skin sensitivity to the action of male hormones, androgens.
Normally, estrogens reduce the activity of the sebaceous glands and accelerate the renewal of skin cells. When there are few of them, it becomes dry, the ducts of the sebaceous glands "clog" with dead skin scales - this disrupts the outflow of sebum.
Androgens further increase the activity of the sebaceous glands. The resulting secret stagnates in the ducts, eels appear. When microbes are connected to the case, inflammation develops and pimples “jump up”.
No diet, cream and "cleansing" of the skin can not help from the formation of acne. There are drugs that reduce the synthesis of androgens and reduce their effect on the skin - for example, combined oral contraceptives (COCs) based on analogues of natural hormones, estrogen and progestogen, which initially has antiandrogenic activity. But they can only appoint a doctor.
Stiff antennae and hair on the chin and cheekbones in women sometimes grow, too, due to an imbalance in the production of androgens. With the correction of hormonal background combined oral contraceptives and antiandrogenic drugs, they also disappear.
Unless you are from among the eastern women, who have a national hair pattern, your mom and grandmother do not have this feature, and suddenly you have a lot of hard hair on your face, you should check out the hormones.
Volosopad, or androgenic alopecia
Another consequence of the negative effect of an increased level of androgens on the female body is androgenic alopecia, or baldness.
According to some reports, about 50% of women lose their hair precisely because of the effects of male sex hormones, or rather, one of the forms of testosterone - dihydrotestosterone. Under its influence, the hair follicles become small, the hair becomes thinner, brittle and fall out.
To make sure that hair loss is associated with androgens, it is not enough to have a blood test for testosterone. In most cases, the amount of testosterone remains within the normal range. But you can find a reduced amount of estrogen or signs of low sensitivity of the body to them skin: acne, acne, dryness, peeling and flabbiness of the skin, thinning and brittle nails.
Hair loss can be associated not only with androgens, but also with anemia, lactation, low amounts of proteins and fats in the diet, stress and "cruel" treatment of hair.
You can finally deal with the problem only by visiting a trichologist and doing trichoscopy and trichography - a special examination of the hair, which allows you to examine them at different stages of development.
Unfortunately, despite the indirect relationship of androgenic alopecia with female hormones, it cannot be treated with estrogen. Doctors use drugs that have an anti-androgenic effect, prevent the conversion of testosterone to harmful dehydrotestosterone and accelerate the growth of new hair.
Candidiasis, also known as thrush, is a disease caused by a yeast-like fungus of the genus Candida. According to some reports, up to 75% of women face it.
Candida is not a dangerous fungus, it can be found in the vagina in every third healthy woman. The growth and reproduction of the fungus controls the immune system, in particular, leukocytes, which are released into the lumen of the vagina and kill overly multiplied fungi.
Studies show that elevated levels of estrogen interferes with the release of leukocytes into the vagina and thereby interfere with the activation of the protective mechanism. Candidiasis of the vagina is usually combined with rapid reproduction of fungi in the intestine. Intestinal candida violates the metabolism of estrogen in the body, which leads to the accumulation of hormones and increases the activity of vaginal fungi.
You do not need to be frivolous about candidiasis: it is quite dangerous. Against this background, the craving for sweets and starchy foods increases, which jeopardizes metabolism and health. Candidiasis provokes allergies and acne, reduces resistance to infectious diseases.
Against the background of thrush, other vaginal infections develop rapidly, some of which can lead to infertility. And the dominance of estrogen in the body provokes a decrease in sexual desire, the development of mastitis, endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
Antifungal antibiotics and drugs that promote the development of normal vaginal microflora help to fight thrush. Only by restoring the immunity of the vagina, one can hope that the mushrooms will stop attacking and behave quietly.
Instructions for testing hormones
If the problems described above are familiar to you, you need to check hormones. You can make a blood test for hormones in any independent laboratory - but you will still need to go to an gynecologist and endocrinologist for explanations.
The results of laboratory tests are always evaluated in conjunction with the existing symptoms. You may need additional tests and advice from other doctors.
General rules for the "study" of all hormones:
- Blood for analysis is taken on an empty stomach, so it is better to go to the laboratory in the morning without breakfast.
- The day before the analysis, it is necessary to exclude alcohol, sex, sports training and hard physical labor. If possible, limit smoking.
- You can not take any hormonal drugs, and if you can not refuse them, notify the laboratory.
- Try not to be nervous: emotional outbursts affect the production of hormones and the result of the analysis.
When to take an analysis depends on what hormone you want to determine. Typically, the diagnosis is carried out in two stages - in the first and second phases (half) of the menstrual cycle.
On 3 – 5-th day of the menstrual cycle (counting from the first day of menstruation with the 28-day cycle) determine:
- follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH),
- luteinizing hormone (LH),
In the second half of the cycle, on the 22 – 23 day (counting from the first day of menstruation during the 28-day cycle), an analysis is performed for progesterone and estradiol.
If there is suspicion that the problem is associated with male sex hormones, you need to pass the analysis on:
- free testosterone;
- Androstenedione (precursor of testosterone);
- sex hormone binding globulin (sex steroid binding globulin, androgen-binding globulin, sex steroid-binding globulin).
The analysis is carried out on any day of the menstrual cycle, because the formation of male sex hormones in the body of a woman is constantly and little depends on the phase of the menstrual cycle.
To check if menopause is approaching, it is necessary to pass an analysis on FSH and anti-Muller hormone (AMH) - a special substance that is constantly formed in the ovaries and allows you to judge their functional reserve. Blood should be donated for analysis on 2 – 5 day of the menstrual cycle, but if there is no menstruation, you can do the analysis at any convenient day.
You feel that something is wrong with hormones, but you do not know how to approach the solution of the problem, immediately go to the gynecologist-endocrinologist. He will prescribe the necessary tests and conduct a survey.
The material is published for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and does not replace medical advice. ForumDaily Woman is not responsible for any diagnosis made by the reader based on the site's materials, as well as for the consequences of self-medication, and may not share the point of view of the author or expert.