The Hormone Conductor
In this lesson we dive a bit deeper into the role of oestrogen as the conductor of a hormone orchestra.
Listen to the audio (transcript below). Grab a copy of the files that go with this lesson from the pdf viewer at the bottom of the screen.
In the last episode we talked about hormones in general.
Levels change daily, monthly and over a lifetime. As we age changes naturally occur in the way body systems are controlled. Some target tissues become less sensitive to their controlling hormone. The amount of hormones produced may also change. Blood levels of some hormones increase, some decrease, and some are unchanged.
Let’s look at just one of the menstrual cycle key players –
The 4 hormones:
Estradiol (the most potent of the oestrogen family) – made in the ovaries
Progesterone – made in the ovaries (in an area called the corpus luteum)
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – made in the pituitary gland (brain)
Lutenizing Hormone (LH) – made in the pituitary gland (brain)
They work in synchronicity and each one affects the level of the next.
Testosterone is made in the ovaries but is not a part of the menstrual cycle.
I just want to zoom in on Estradiol for the rest of this episode.
Estradiol is a member of the oestrogen family – we often hear explanations associated with reproductive health as Oestrogen does this and oestrogen does that. In fact there are several different oestrogens classed as either major and minor and they are not all made in the ovaries!
Estradiol has a multitude of functions and plays an important role in male and female bodies, outside of the menstrual cycle.
There are 11 core systems that keep us alive and Oestrogens as a family of hormones impact all of them. For example:
- Endocrine system – influences other hormones
- Bone formation – skeletal system
- Muscle development
- Nervous system
- Immune and lymphatic system – defence against disease
- Skin, nails and hair
- Digestive system
- Cardio vascular
- Respiratory system
- Renal and urinary system
Plays a major role in energy & metabolism – oestrogens support the insulin response and how we obtain energy from food.
And the one particular function that blows my mind is in the Brain activity – it acts as a neurotransmitter. In fact sex hormones (inlc T and Pr) are critical neuro transmitters that guide brain behaviour. Oestrogen is classed as a ‘happy hormone’ alongside serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins. In the presence of oestrogens, thyroxin works so much better and the same with serotonin as such it impacts mental health. The pulses of estradiol drive the physiological function of the brain, and it’s connectivity – helps you think
Relatively speaking the oestrogen family are like the conductor of a huge hormone orchestra. As well as having a direct role in those functions listed they also support other hormonal activity as well.
And that means that even a small variation in Estradiol levels has an impact on the hormone collective. So this means that you as a whole person will be affected to a greater or lesser extent with each and every fluctuation. The variation may not be noticed, physically or mentally, but it is still there.
In which case tuning into you and tracking your cycle now takes on a whole new meaning.