How 8 Types of Hormones Affect Your Health

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It’s well known that our hormones have a big effect on how we feel both mentally and physically. The following types of hormones are key players in how your body functions and can affect your health in multiple ways.

1. Estrogen

Estrogen is one of the key female sex hormones, but men have estrogen too. In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries and is responsible for functions like ovulation, menstruation, breast development, and increasing bone and cartilage density. 

Having too much estrogen can increase the risk of certain cancers and is linked to symptoms like depression, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, headaches, low sex drive, anxiety, and menstrual problems. 

Having too little estrogen can cause weakened bones (osteoporosis), menstrual problems, fertility issues, and mood disorders. While estrogen levels naturally decrease with age until menopause, some conditions may cause low estrogen in women who are not yet perimenopausal. 

2. Progesterone

Another type of hormone associated with the female reproductive system is progesterone. Like estrogen, progesterone plays a key part in the menstrual cycle. It helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy and is an important factor in the early stages of pregnancy. 

Low progesterone levels can cause heavy and irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems. If progesterone levels drop during pregnancy, it can cause premature labor or miscarriage. Having too much progesterone may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

3. Testosterone

Testosterone is one of the principal androgens present in the body. Androgens are types of hormones associated with male reproduction. However, women produce testosterone and other androgens in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat cells. This hormone contributes to sex drive, fat distribution, muscle strength, bone mass, and red blood cell production in both men and women.

Women who have too much testosterone may have thinning hair on their heads, excess body hair, facial hair, acne, more body fat, low libido, and smaller breasts. Having high testosterone can also cause irregular periods and contribute to fertility problems. 

4. Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It has many functions, but its main responsibility is converting glucose (sugar) in the things we eat into a form the body can use for energy. Insulin helps regulate blood sugar.

When the body cannot produce or process insulin correctly, it can result in insulin resistance, prediabetes, or diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the US have diabetes. 

According to the CDC, 2 – 10% of pregnancies in the US are affected by gestational diabetes each year. This can pose risks to the health of the baby and mother and the pregnancy may be considered high risk.

5. Cortisol

Cortisol is a type of hormone known as a steroid hormone and is produced by the adrenal glands. It has many responsibilities that keep you healthy and energetic. Cortisol is responsible for helping regulate metabolism, regulating blood pressure, acting as an anti-inflammatory, and even forming memories.

Cortisol is sometimes called a stress hormone because the body secretes higher levels of cortisol as a reaction to stress. Having too much cortisol for extended periods can cause hypertension, anxiety, sleep loss, and autoimmune problems. Too little cortisol is associated with low blood pressure, weakness, and fatigue.

6. Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone is often referred to by the initials HGH. Sometimes it is simply called “growth hormone.”  It is a type of hormone produced by the pituitary gland. As the name implies, HGH is mostly associated with growth and development. It stimulates cell growth, cell regeneration, and cell reproduction in children. It also helps boost metabolism.

7. Adrenaline

Like cortisol, adrenaline is known as a stress hormone. It is produced in the adrenal glands and within some cells of the central nervous system. Adrenaline’s major function is to prepare the body for its “fight or flight” response and allows for quick decision making in dangerous or stressful situations. Having too much adrenaline for extended periods can lead to high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, heart palpitations, irritability, and dizziness.

8. Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones are produced in the thyroid gland. They perform a variety of crucial tasks in the body. One of the thyroid hormone’s biggest responsibilities is regulating metabolism. An imbalance of thyroid hormones can be linked to a serious condition like Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s disease, which can cause problems with weight management and energy levels.

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Kernodle OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women in Burlington and Mebane, NC. If you have questions about how your hormones are affecting your health, call us at (336) 538-2367 to make an appointment.

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