From our moods to physical health, hormones play an important role. Only a little hormonal imbalance can affect our state of health. To understand how this happens, this article explains the role of different hormones in the body
Derived from the Greek word “hormon” meaning “stimulation”, hormones are the body’s special chemical messengers. They are produced in the sexual organs and major endocrine glands, such as the pituitary gland, the pineal gland, the thymus, the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland and the pancreas. They flow through the blood to certain organs and tissues, where they work at different speeds to mark certain physiological processes, such as reproduction, growth and development. Moreover, hormones support the normal functioning of different organs inside us.
Hormones can affect the immune system and influence behavior. They play a vital role in shaping our human characteristics and the characters of our bodies. For women, estrogen helps improve the quality and texture of hair, skin and vocal chords. So if you notice that your hair has lost its luster or become dry and rough, then it may be caused by declining hormone levels. When your hormone levels drop or are imbalanced, it will affect you in some way. That is why we have to maintain a hormonal balance.
Dr. Apratim Goel, a dermatologist and laser surgeon, believes that, contrary to popular belief, the hormones produced by the body are not based on gender differences. “They’re just different in proportion. Cortisol, thyroid hormones and sex hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are present in both sexes and are critical to health and vitality,” he explained. “Although we all have these hormones, the amount your body produces determines whether they are in balance or not.”
He calls men’s three main hormones as the “Three Children”, which are cortisol, thyroid hormones and testosterone; and women’s as “Charlie’s Angels”, known as cortisol, thyroid hormones and estrogen. This is an interesting way to remember the main hormones that affect your body. In fact, they each play a different role.
When cortisol hormone levels rise, it leads to more stress, and vice versa. The thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland is another important hormone. When it falls out of balance, it will affect our health and can cause a sudden increase in weight, as well as affect skin texture, make the hair brittle and weaken the muscles.
An estrogen imbalance is a cause of women’s mood changes. It also affects their menstrual cycle, sexual desire and endurance. Whenever hormonal levels are unbalanced, you are sure to feel and show it in some way, but most of us can’t see why this is happening. For example, some days you may feel low while other days you feel particularly happy. This can be attributed to hormonal factors. While you can’t simply blame hormones, they are surely one of the reasons. That is why hormonal doctors are often able to help emotionally impacted patients find out the real cause of their emotional imbalance.
Men have a high level of testosterone, which determines their sexual desire, appetite and secondary sexual characteristics such as deep voice and facial hair. Dr. Goel gives us more details of this hormone: “It is secreted by the testicles and adrenal glands and is responsible for the production of strength and sperm. Men also have a low level of estrogen, secreted by the adrenal glands. As men get older, testosterone levels decline, accompanied by an increase in estrogen (mainly due to fat cells converting a small amount of testosterone into estrogen that leads to weight gain), leading to fatigue, decreased energy, the risk of prostate and heart disease, and even the onset of female breasts or breast fat. The level of progesterone in men is lower than that of women, but it has almost similar functions, namely, calming the emotions, improving vitality, regulating sleep and behavior, and promoting the healthy distribution of fat. Usually, in the teenage period, men’s testosterone reaches its peak when their voices suddenly change, facial hair appears, and acne arrives,” said the doctor.
For women, estrogen is the main hormone. Every month, it causes the endometrium to thicken preparing for pregnancy, and if there is no conception, its level drops and menstruation takes place. That is to say, the estrogen level reaches its peak just before menstruation, leading to premenstrual syndrome signs such as impatience or displeasure. Estrogen is secreted by the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells, and its level decreases with age.
“Estrogen helps develop females’ secondary traits, such as breasts and pubic hair, as well as maintaining bone density and healthy cholesterol levels,” Dr. Goel explained. “Then, progesterone is a nutritious hormone that balances the adverse effects of estrogen. It calms the mind, improves sleep quality, prevents abdominal distension, and redistributes body fat. Also testosterone is present in a small amount in the female body and is secreted by the adrenal glands and ovaries. It helps to enhance muscle tone, strength, sexual desire and vitality, but excessive testosterone in female can lead to acne, hirsutism, irregular menstruation, and even PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).”
“A person’s hormone levels do not change easily – they usually changing gradually with age, unless sudden health or mental problems occur. If this happens, certain hormone levels will fall or rise sharply, which can further affect the person’s mental and physical health. In such cases, with the help of a doctor, drugs and certain health measures can help in recovery.”
If you have obvious acne, baldness, non-pregnant nipple discharge and hirsutism (male type hair growth on chin and upper lip, etc.), you had better go to have a check of the hormones, and the sooner you get treatment, the less impact you will suffer. If the symptoms are light, you don’t even need to take medication, just lead a better and healthier lifestyle, then the situation will improve. It is important to make sure that you do not ignore the subtle changes in your body, as they will get worse over time.
Dr. Goel said:“Generally, a person’s hormones start to go wrong in middle age, between 30 and 40 years old.” People at this period usually have many concerns about their families and careers, which give them a lot of stress. A long-term stressful state can cause a decline in progesterone level and fill the body with a major sex-based hormone: estrogen or testosterone. So, at this point, one will have difficulty in staying calm or sleeping well. Afterwards, you may face higher cortisol levels, which makes everything worse. While severe cases can be treated with low doses of oral contraceptives, progesterone drugs or mild antidepressants, they are not one-stop solutions. Nevertheless, stress is at the heart of the problem, so it is important to relax and decompress.
Dr. Goel emphasizes the importance of proper water replenishment and an antioxidant-rich diet. Eat more foods that boost serotonin, such as eggs, nuts, cheese and dark chocolate. Do exercise, enjoy SPA and practice yoga and psychotherapy regularly. You can also start from small things such as having meals on time or enjoying a sound sleep, because once your biological clock is disordered, your hormones will immediately fall out of balance.
Changing your lifestyle, such as having the right diet and keeping to a proper weight, is the easiest way to get hormones back to normal. Exercise for 30 minutes a day: running, quick walking, going to the fitness center all help. Also, yoga can effectively calm one’s nerves and has an overall benefit to health. Although there are different forms of yoga nowadays, it is recommended to choose the traditional yoga which can be done by people of all ages. Of course, it is important to practice yoga under the guidance of trained professionals so as to avoid hurting the body.
Balance Hormones with Yoga and Respiratory Practice
Yoga and regular aerobic exercise, such as running and walking, can improve and balance the hormones in the body. Many yoga postures such as the Rabbit posture (Sasakasana), Head to Foot posture (Janu Sirsasana), and Mountain posture (Parvatasana) are highly effective to balance hormones. Don’t rush it, but do it regularly, and over time, your flexibility will largely increase.
Try some respiratory practices to release the pressure, such as alternating nostril breathing or diaphragm breathing. It takes only a few minutes to have conscious deep breaths 20 times a day, but it can be very effective in making the body feel relaxed.
Balance Hormones with Good Lifestyle
Sufficient Sleep: It is important to have enough rest because hormones are secreted most vigorously and evenly when one is asleep. Also, sleep activates the limbic system, releasing “decompression hormones” that help fight aging, and keep you calm and free from excessive mood swings.
Change the Way of Thinking: Your perception of things is at the root of your stress. Try to think about the situation that puts you under pressure from another angle. Is it really that bad? Why not think it in a positive way. The regrets and mistakes of the past can be your best teachers. When women are overeating or in a rage, their hormones are consumed. Good emotions will help your brain balance the secretion of “stress hormones”.