I started writing this post as a hormones 101, but soon realized that if I really wanted it to be an introduction to all women’s hormones, I would need to write a novel instead of a blog post. So we’re going to break this down and talk about only sex hormones today.
There are three main sex hormones to be paying attention to in this department: testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. It’s very important for us women to keep all of these in balance. They affect all of our system functions, not just reproduction. When the balance gets out of whack, the body starts going a little crazy. You may start gaining weight, get emotional, have terrible PMS, have more frequent yeast infections, struggle with infertility, and have major fatigue (to name a few).
So let’s dig into the difference between these hormones and why they’re so vital for us women to be aware of and keep in balance.
You might be surprised to hear that testosterone is actually extremely important to women. It’s not just a man hormone. Having a healthy testosterone level keeps us moving and motivated, and not just about sex. Testosterone is a get-it-done hormone that, when our levels get too low, can result in everything crawling to a halt. You can get fatigue, brain fog, depression, and even infertility. High testosterone is sometimes the reason women get put on birth control. However, that just masks the symptoms instead of getting to the root cause of hormonal imbalance.
Progesterone seems to get less attention. In fact, if there was one of these three hormones you hadn’t heard of before, it’s probably this one. Progesterone is highest during the second half of our cycle because production increase is triggered by ovulation. This is one reason why hormonal birth control can result in low progesterone — it prevents ovulation in the first place. Progesterone balances estrogen, which is why if progesterone gets too low, your PMS symptoms can get intense.
Estrogen is the golden child that most women are familiar with. She’s kind of a diva and can easily dominate over the other two hormones when given the chance. Estrogen regulates the reproductive process as well as maintaining immune health. It can also contribute to brain, bone, and heart health. It’s easy to see why estrogen gets most of the attention in women’s health. However, too much estrogen can wreak havoc and cause weight gain, especially around the hips and thighs. On the other hand, low estrogen can be dangerous to the organs that it protects.
Girl, lemme tell ya… If you haven’t gotten a hormone panel done to know where you stand, get on it! It’s definitely on my to do list for this season. Especially if you’re in your mid to late 20s. Having a healthy baseline you can use 30 years down the road is super helpful.
Your sex hormones communicate with you through these side effects. If you’re not healthy, listen closely to your body, and it will tell you.