For something that controls us so much, not all of us know very much about our hormones and what they do! So here’s a few things you might not know about these power houses!
Like progesterone, oestrogen helps to regulate the menstrual cycle but with age it begins to naturally decrease as we approach the perimenopause and menopause. Higher levels are linked to feelings of happiness and calm, so when it decreases, it can lead to mood swings, anxiety and brain fog.
There are herbal remedies that can help to counteract this drop in oestrogen, including agnus cactus and black cohosh. St John’s wort can also help to manage anxiety and a low mood.
This hormone helps to control when we feel sleepy and when we feel more awake. It tends to be produced by the body each evening and stays higher through the night, allowing us to sleep. Each morning levels have dropped allowing us to feel awake during the day.
If you’re feeling tired during the day and awake at night, try taking magnesium supplements to help regulate your melatonin production. Another supplement, called 5-HTP can also help.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone, but it still exists in female bodies, just in much lower concentrations. Low testosterone in women can mean a low sex drive, feeling tired and a loss of self-confidence. It’s also important for maintaining strong bones and muscles.
We can boost our testosterone levels by eating certain foods such as garlic, eggs, oysters, almonds and spinach.
Progesterone prepares the lining of the womb for implantation and sustaining the pregnancy
If a fertilized egg implants, progesterone then helps the uterine lining (endometrium) to maintain the pregnancy.
In a regular 28 day cycle, the progesterone test is taken on day 21. If a woman’s cycle is longer or shorter than 28 days the test will be taken later or sooner.
Progesterone Test and Fertility: When and Why
A progesterone blood test checks for the amount of progesterone in your blood on the day of the test.
If you’re having trouble conceiving, or undergoing a fertility treatment cycle, your doctor will monitor your progesterone levels to confirm whether ovulation has occurred.
If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, still birth, or unusual bleeding, your doctor may also check your progesterone, as it’s also known to support a healthy pregnancy. Women with low progesterone and a history of miscarriages may be prescribed progesterone supplements as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed. Progesterone supplementation may help reduce the chances of another miscarriage by improving the uterine environment to help sustain a pregnancy.
Contributors to low progesterone levels are:
The thyroid gland sits at the base of the neck and produces hormones called liothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Together, T3 and T4 help to regulate mood, energy and metabolism. Going through the menopause or being under stress can upset the delicate balance of these hormones.
An overactive thyroid can result in weight loss, anxiety and irritability and an underactive thyroid can cause weight gain, low mood and depression.
Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid issues can also be a cause for infertility and recurrent miscarriage.
What does a thyroid test do? Thyroid hormone levels can be measured by a simple thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test. It is important that TSH is at an optimal level, as it affects ovulation and it is important for women struggling to conceive to check if they have abnormal thyroid hormone level
Low levels of thyroid hormone
DHEA is responsible for making us feel driven and enthusiastic. When we’re young, our levels of DHEA are high but we naturally lose it as we age, leading to exhaustion, low mood and a non-existent sex drive.
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids including oily fish, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds can help to preserve DHEA for as long as possible. So does remaining free from stress, so make time for relaxation and mindfulness.
Fertility is the ability to conceive a biological child.
You and your partner might question your fertility if you’ve been trying to get pregnant with frequent, unprotected sex for at least one year — or at least six months if you’re older than 35 — with no success.
Fertility issues can be 40% due to a woman’s reproductive issue, 40% due to a male fertility issue and 20% a mix of both male and female issues.
It’s important to get tested, receive a diagnosis and then get advice from a trusted consultant to discuss next steps.
Often, when someone says they are ‘going through menopause,’ what they actually mean is that they are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms.
This usually begins happening around the ages of 45 and 55, but can be much earlier, as early as late 20s/early 30s for some women.
During the perimenopausal time period a woman’s ovaries begin to produce less oestrogen and progesterone. These lower hormone levels mean that fat distribution changes throughout the body (often resulting in a thicker waist and wider hips), and bones become less dense. This loss of bone density can make women more vulnerable to breaks and fractures.
Here are some of the most common signs that you are in perimenopause:
Menopause is defined scientifically as the point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period has finished. While menstruation can become very sporadic and unpredictable in the years leading up to menopause, you are not considered to be fully menopausal until this point.
Most women experience full menopause around the age of 51, but this can vary greatly depending on the individual. Before menopause, a woman typically spends between 7 and 14 years in the menopausal transition, also referred to as ‘perimenopause.’
Some women experience menopause as the result of a hysterectomy or the removal of the ovaries, the organs that produce hormones. Any woman who has one of these surgeries who does not take hormonal replacement therapy will immediately begin to experience the symptoms of menopause.
By getting a hormone and Vitamin D test, it will help you to understand your best options to help alleviate any symptoms you may be experiencing.
The word menopause is usually associated with women, but the male menopause is a very real thing, yet it’s often derided or dismissed as something that doesn’t exist.
So what is the male menopause and what symptoms does it cause?
The medical term for the male menopause is the andropause. It’s a perfectly natural event in a man’s life, and describes the natural decline in the level of testosterone that flows around a male body. This then results in a range of symptoms and changes.
Even though the andropause is caused by a drop in hormone levels, in this case, testosterone, it isn’t the same as the decline in oestrogen during the menopause in a woman.
The drop in testosterone in a male body is more steady than the often sudden drop in oestrogen levels in a female body. Although the andropause does tend to occur around the same age as the menopause, most commonly affecting men in their late 40s and early 50s.
What is the role of testosterone?
Testosterone has a few different roles within the male body. These include:
What are the symptoms of the andropause?
Not all men experience the symptoms of a decline in testosterone levels, but in those that do, it can cause:
These symptoms can affect a man’s general happiness and lead to poor life choices such as eating a poor diet, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and not exercising enough.
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by stress
So if you’re concerned (or you’re concerned about your partner) it’s a good idea to seek medical advice to rule out any underlying problems.
A blood test to determine levels of ‘free’ testosterone (the type of testosterone that isn’t bound to protein, and is instead free to circulate around the body in the blood) can help to determine if testosterone levels have fallen. If this is the case, testosterone supplements in the form of skin patches, tablets, gels or injections can be prescribed which can help.
The role of hormones is to provide an internal communication system between cells located in distant parts of the body, with the purpose of affecting certain processes, including:
– Growth and development
– Sexual function
Excessive exercise, stress, oral contraceptives, poor diet – these are just a few things that can result in a hormonal imbalance. As the name suggests, when you have a hormone imbalance, you have too much or too little of a certain hormone.
Hormones control everything from how you sleep and whether you gain or lose weight to your ability to get pregnant and your mood. There are certain times in life when your hormones go through major shifts, like pregnancy and menopause, but when your hormones get out of whack, the imbalance can impact serious health conditions such as diabetes, oesteoperosis, heart disease and in some cases cancer.
It’s important to test your hormones and Vitamin D levels to be able to make the best health choices for you.
Babble Fertility has leading experts and our support navigators are here to help you every step of the way.