Monday, August 29, 2011

Mysterious Hormones

When common complaints are being brought up, often the subject will be PMS or how hormonal women are. General western society is aware that womens' instability comes from hormones and hormonal changes each month, but not very many people know any more than that about those hormones. Why not? Why does it have to be some mystical unknown? Well that bugged me enough to start reading about hormones, etc, and to try to get a bit of education on the topic. After all, knowledge is power! It has been immensely satisfying to begin to understand the workings of my body, and bodies in general. Here is a list of the four basic hormones which are at work in a woman's body each month:

FSH: Folicle Stimulating Hormone:

  • Stimulates follicles in which eggs will grow.
  • Found in the Pituitary Gland, at the base of the brain.

LH: Luteinizing Hormone:

  • Stimulates and completes follicular growth (eggs).
  • Triggers ovulation.
  • Luteinizes the ruptured follicle (after ovulation of an egg), or, turns it into a corpus luteum.
  • Found in the Pituitary gland (also referred to as gonodotropin).


  • Estradiol: produced by maturing follicles.
  • Creates wet cervical fluid which enables fertilization.
  • Matures female sex organs.


  • Heat-producing.
  • Produced in the corpus luteum of the ovaries (the discarded eggshell of the ovulated egg).
  • Prevents more than one egg from releasing in one cycle.
  • Nurtures Endometrial lining (which ensures a safe environment for growth if an egg is fertilized).
  • Bleeding happens when: no egg was fertilized and the corpus luteum disintegrates: triggers cessation of progesterone. (Endometrial lining deteriorates without the progesterone).

The following chart is a simplistic way to understand a woman's cycle. Up until ovulation, FSH, LH and estrogen are at work, preparing the egg to ovulate. After ovulation, progesterone is at work to create the right environment should that egg be fertilized:

Follicular/Estrogenic Phase Luteal or Progestational Phase


Day 1 Ovulation

(Prepping eggs/follicles) (Prepping Endometrial lining)

Here are 2 charts of the four hormone levels:

(I think this one is funny. Though I'm fairly certain it is supposed to be an egg, it looks like a full moon--connected in some cultures with the mysteries of women's emotional instability. .)

There is something I don't understand. It appears that the major (crazy) hormonal shifts are in the middle of the cycle, not during the menstruation. So why are the PMS symptoms and 'hormonal imbalances' at the end, not in the middle? Perhaps the 'hormonal imbalance' is due to a LACK of hormones?

1 comment:

  1. Pay attention to the way you act when you're ovulating. I think it's a social thing. People incorrectly blame PMS symptoms on "hormones" -- while some changes in hormones do cause menstruation, bigger ones happen during ovulation. I think what really causes the symptoms is the extreme discomfort of having your uterus perform physiological acrobatics between your hips, trying to staunch the torrent of blood, and the effects of lower iron levels and dehydration.