Understanding Reproductive Hormones in a Woman’s Body

dihydroprogesterone-867429_640As a woman, you know that your reproductive hormones will take you on a rollercoaster ride throughout your lifetime. From the onset of puberty to menopause, fluctuations in your hormones will affect you in a multitude of ways. They also play an essential role when it comes to pregnancy. Progesterone and estrogen play crucial roles in your body as they send chemical messages to your system. Take a closer look at what your female reproductive hormones are doing inside of you and what role they have in reproduction.

What is GnRH?
GnRH is a hormone that is produced in a part of your brain known as the hypothalamus. It travels through the bloodstream of your body, eventually finding its way to the pituitary gland. Think of the pituitary gland as a hormonal powerhouse that is responsible for many hormones in your body. When GnRH arrives in the pituitary gland, it prompts the production of luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones. These two hormones play a part in your menstrual cycle. GnRH ensures that FSH hormone production is triggered by the pituitary gland during the beginning of a woman’s menstrual cycle. GnRH triggers the production and release of LH hormones during the second part of the menstrual cycle, preparing a woman’s body for the possibility of pregnancy.

What Roles to LH and FSH Play in Menstruation?
LH and FSH are vital for regular menstruation. FSH, otherwise known as follicle-stimulating hormones, are key in the healthy development of follicles. Follicles are the sacs that are filled with fluid and encase the eggs that are developing within a woman’s ovaries. LH hormones, also known as luteinizing hormones or gonadotropins, prompt the release of the egg from the follicles so that it can travel toward the uterus. It is interesting to note that this same hormone directs the testes in the male body to release the sperm. LH hormones are also responsible for the thickening of the lining of the uterus, also referred to as the endometrium. When LH hormones are being produced in the proper levels during ovulation, the mucous found at the cervix will thin out in order to allow sperm to pass into the uterus.

How is Progesterone Involved in Reproduction?
Progesterone plays a critical role in the preparation of the uterine lining. It ensures that the lining of the uterus will be ready to accept a fertilized egg if one is present. If there is no fertilized egg, or the egg does not implant in the lining of the uterus for some reason, progesterone levels will begin to drop. At that point, menstruation will begin as the lining of the uterus is shed.

What About Estrogen?
Women hear about estrogen all of the time, but may not understand how it is involved in their bodies. Estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries of the female body. It is also produced in the adrenal glands by both men and women. It can even be produced by fat in the human body. However, the main source of estrogen is the ovaries and it is essential for preparing a woman for puberty, including the development of the breasts, the growth of pubic hair, and the onset of menstruation. Estrogen levels peak during the midpoint of a woman’s menstrual cycle. When a woman reaches menopause, estrogen levels drop dramatically. Throughout a woman’s life, fluctuations in estrogen can cause various symptoms, from a loss of libido to hot flashes or unexplained weight gain. It is important to understand the role that all of the reproductive hormones play and how hormonal imbalances can affect a woman.