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First Stop: Your Hormones

Posted on 01 May 2011

Today, Imma be in your face about hormones.  Was thinking I'd love to provide you with a reference guide to each hormone: who they be and what they do. Why listen to me?  I'm a scholar, seeker, yoga teacher and a doctor. It's serious, sacred stuff. But. Imma be honest. I frequently quote The Blackeyed Peas. Right. Hormones. Stay on task. Estrogen helps with that.... Estrogen is the hottie of the group. Keeps you juicy, joyous and jonesin' for sex. Estrogen has over 400 jobs in the female body, and what you feel when there's too much or too little varies from creaky joints to brain fog to depression. As with most hormones, don't want too much or too little. Find your sweet spot with estrogen (estradiol to be precise, the one you make the most during THE REPRODUCTIVE YEARS... doesn't that sounds like a prison sentence? Imma be digressing), and she'll repay you in droves. Progesterone. Every kite needs wind. Estrogen needs to be sufficiently balanced by progesterone. Progesterone is the soothing compliment to the upper, all-business estrogen. Irregular cycles or you're on the rag more frequently than 5-10 years ago? Probably your ovaries making less of the stuff. Keeps you sleeping all night too. Cortisol. Powers through a car wreck ("fight") and gets you to run fast after your kids ("flight") and makes you fall in bed exhausted at the end o' the day ("collapse"). When your cortisol is too high, welcome the muffin top. And disrupted sleep. When it's too low: depletion. Tank empty. Finito. Done. Testosterone. Hormone of vitality. Gets you either hungry for sex or more commonly, r-e-c-e-p-t-i-v-e. Big difference, and difficult for women to attune to the latter. Key player along with estrogen in governing the perimenopausal and menopausal mood. When cycling regularly, peaks on day 9. Pregnenolone. Mother hormone of the whole fam, the matriarch, the precursor to absolutely every sex hormone. Involved in your memory, particularly word finding. Involved in keeping your vision in technicolor. Never heard of it? I know, me neither, until I did an advanced course with a very handsome fourth generation endocrinologist from Belgium, and let me tell ya, most European women have heard of it. Disappears when you are stressed. Thyroid. Masta of metabolism. Keeps you energized, at a manageable weight (sans extreme measures that many of us in premenopause become reluctantly familiar with), and your locks glossy. Keeps your cholesterol reasonable. Keeps joints working well and pain-free. Keeps those finger and toenails from chippin'. Keeps mood and libido hummin' where it should. Oxytocin. Hormone of love and bonding. Men need to be hugged three times longer than women to get the same release of oxytocin. Babies produce this in us, which is why most of us women still want to have another baby even when it makes absolutely no rational sense. Leptin. The hunger switch. Yours goes up commensurate with bread consumption. So unfair. It tells your brain you're appropriately full unless your level is high - then the sky is the limit before satiety arrives. Damn. Determines whether to utilize the apple you just ate as fuel or store it for the next famine. I loved the "Cast of Neuro-Hormone Characters" from Louann Brizendine's book, The Female Brain. I credit Louann for inspiring the idea for this post. xoxox Dr. S

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