The role hormones play "hit me" when I first started to suffer with menopausal symptoms. Medical professionals talk about hormones naturally. However this was confusing for me and I did not fully understand their advice. Hormones either in excess or deficient can affect us physically and emotionally. It is important to know their role in the female body, particularly to understand medical advice you receive at any age.

So what are hormones?

The three common hormones you may have come across are Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone.  In addition, the other hormones that affect us in various ways are:

  • cortisol
  • insulin and
  • thyroid hormones that can affect mood, energy and weight.

We need these hormones to get through each day.

Oestrogen is produced in the ovary (known as oestradiol) which helps the reproductive system and is produced during the first part of the monthly cycle.  The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is released in the brain from the pituitary gland (the main gland) and the receptors of the ovary pick up this hormone and hence oestrogen is produced.

Oestrogen plays a very important role, as it:

  • builds the uterine lining – important for the reproductive functions
  • regulates the menstrual cycle
  • formulates the body shape and breasts
  • helps with the elasticity and collagen of the skin
  • supports the heart and artery functions
  • builds the bone structure naturally by working with vitamin D, calcium and other hormones
  • maintains the pelvic muscles to be strong and elastic
  • supports vaginal lubrication helping with the elasticity and thickness of the vagina
  • helps with body temperature

Progesterone is produced in the ovary and is dependent on the hormones called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and oestrogen. Once the follicle (sac containing an egg) in the ovary releases the egg around the middle of the cycle it then starts producing progesterone. This hormone is released during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Progesterone plays a very important role, as:

  • where protein is secreted in the endometrium progesterone thickens and maintains the uterus lining so it is prepared to implant an egg and become fertile
  • it maintains pregnancy, if the egg has not been fertilised the corpus luteum dies and progesterone declines regulating the menstrual cycle.

Testosterone is often considered a male hormone, but actually women have testosterone in their bodies too. Testosterone levels control your sex drive, energy levels, muscle strength and bone density. The adrenal glands produce some testosterone, but the majority is produced by the ovaries in female bodies.