What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals your body produces to regulate various functions. They do so by sending important messages and signals to various organs and tissues. When they work harmoniously, your body behaves in a predictable way. But if there is too much or too little of any one hormone, then imbalance occurs and you can begin to feel that something is wrong. Wanted pregnancies don’t happen, the discomfort of PMS makes the days before menstruation very difficult, or menstruation may occur irregularly or not occur at all. This is when an accurate assessment of hormone balance can mean all the difference in the world–and is the reason Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory created the Female Hormone Profile.
Hormones in Women
The most important groups of hormones for women are estrogens (especially ÃŸ-estradiol) and progestins (like progesterone). In a healthy female body they balance each other so phases of the menstrual cycle occur regularly. When one is going down, the other is going up. Their synchronized cycle repeats about every month (25 to 35 days). When the balance between estrogen and progesterone is lost, your body may act in unpredictable ways. When everything works normally, the menstrual cycle goes through appropriate phases. For the first 10-16 days, a woman’s body is getting eggs ready for fertilization (pregnancy). Follicles grow in the ovaries. The tissue in the womb prepares for a fertilized egg. If eggs are fertilized, then the menstrual cycle is suspended for the nine months of pregnancy. The body automatically produces appropriate amounts of both estrogen and progesterone. These in turn stimulate secretions for nourishing the fertilized egg. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the nurturing environment created in the womb rapidly changes. Hormone levels drop off quickly after about two weeks, the womb cleanses itself through menstruation, and the process is ready to repeat again.