I talk with the majority of my patients about hormones, because hormones are not just about sex. They’re not just a system that goes crazy when you’re pregnant or that is depleted when you reach a certain age. We all have functioning hormones – a vital and complex system kept in balance by some of the most basic tenets of good health.
I figured it would be helpful to outline each of the twelve metabolic hormones, how they function, and which aspects of our health they affect.
A group of hormones produced primarily in the ovaries to promote female characteristics such as menstruation, breast growth, and hip growth.
Other sources of estrogen include adrenal glands and fat cells.
Estrogen grows your hips and breasts; regulates menstruation; builds uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy; and keeps women lubricated, from joints to vagina.
Drives glucose into cells as fuel and deposits fat. Chronically high insulin increases estrogen (specifically estrone) and increases cells’ resistance to insulin.
Regulates appetite, satiety, and adiponectin, which adjusts how you burn fat.
The main stress hormone, member of the glucocorticoid family. Governs blood sugar, blood pressure, and immune function. Cortisol is produced in your adrenal glands under most conditions, stressful or otherwise.
Essential to the smooth operation of hormone pathways. Adequate thyroid hormone is necessary to make pregnenolone from cholesterol, and then tofurther refine it into progesterone. Affects metabolism and energy, weight, mood.
Helps burn fat and gain lean muscle. Determines how much fat is deposited on your belly.
One of the sex hormones belonging to the androgen family. Although it is often thought of as the male hormone, women need to have some testosterone in their bodies as well. The difference between men and women lies in the quantity of testosterone (men produce much higher quantities). Hormone of vitality and self-confidence. Producing too much is the main reason for female infertility in this country. Also involved in sex drive; producing too little is linked to low libido in women and men.
Secreted by fat cells and adjusts how you burn fat.
Raises appetite in order to initiate eating. Acts in counterpart to leptin. Produced in stomach cells.
Both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, which means it acts as a brain chemical that transmits information from nerve to nerve. Called by some “the love hormone” because it increases in the blood with orgasm in both men and women. Oxytocin is also released when the cervix dilates, thereby augmenting labor, and when a woman’s nipples are stimulated, which facilitates breast-feeding and promotes bonding between mother and baby.
Can convert into testosterone when needed; member of androgen family. Affects mood and sex drive. Too much DHEA has been associated with acne and depression in menopause.
Regulates our sleep/wake cycle. Helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones.