Last week I started the process of de-mystifying our female hormone by talking about the group of steroid hormones known as estrogens. This week I want to explain how estrogens work in concert with our other female hormones to create a normal female menstrual cycle. Once we understand how our body acts normally then it will become easier to understand what happens when our body starts acting abnormally causing pain or discomfort.
Ok let’s get started by looking at what happens during the menstrual cycle. What is fascinating is that our brains our ovaries and our uterus are all involved in the process to create a fertilize egg which will become a fetus or an unfertilized egg which leaves the body as period. The way all these organs communicate with each other is through the hormones that are released. On the first day of our period estrogens and another hormone called progesterone are low and it causes our uterus to shed blood lining which was waiting for a fertilized eggs, this is our period.
During the first few days of our period our brains release two hormones follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which cause the estrogens in your ovaries to begin to be produced as our egg begins to prepare themselves for ovulation. Estrogens also stimulate the uterus to create a thick blood nutrient rich lining that will feed the egg until placenta develops. Around day 10 the estrogen levels peak and cause LH to help the egg to leave the ovary and to make its way towards the uterus. This is called ovulation. After ovulation a second hormone called progesterone starts being released from the ovaries to help maintain the rich nutrient lining of the uterus. If there are sperm in the vagina or uterus during this time of ovulation the egg will be fertilized and it will be implanted in the uterus to grow into a fetus. If the egg is not fertilized then estrogen and progesterone begin to decline. As they decline the lining of the uterus begins to shed and this is what causes our period. Then the cycle starts again.
Now that we understand the normal cycle we can look at some of the imbalances that create PMS and menopause next time.