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Navigating Women's Hormonal Health Beyond the Surface

Understanding the menstrual cycle gives us insight into how hormonal health profoundly impacts our overall well-being. It's about recognizing the systemic effects and acknowledging an ovulatory cycle as our 5th vital sign. This should have all females raise an eyebrow with curiosity regardless of life phase.


Hormonal health for women goes beyond the mere existence of hormones, but yes that is also in the equation; it's not about stagnation, and the absence of symptoms doesn't indicate optimal health. 


Over the years, numerous discoveries have unfolded, revealing the intricate interplay of each sex hormone and their interactions, influencing systemic actions and gene expression. Armed with this knowledge, we establish general baselines to grasp hormonal fluctuations and the complex rhythm they embody. Having these baselines helps us discern what is typical vs optimal.


These hormonal influences spark dialogues that seamlessly guide transitions from one phase of the menstrual cycle to the next. These are dynamic conversations, each shaping the next, influencing processes throughout the body, from our immune system to cardiovascular health.

Being aware of these hormone fluctuations and phases, even in the general sense, opens doors to understanding what hormones can and should be doing for us beyond but still including fertility. As well what we can be doing to support them. 


We need to start by understanding that hormone signaling is not localized to our ovaries or uterus but rather a conversation between our entire body, including but limited, to our thyroid, adrenals, digestive system, ovaries, uterus, bones, muscles and our brains. 


When sending and receiving messages to someone, a lot can go awry. The same applies with the hormone signaling in our bodies. For example: 

 

  • Did the message go out

  • Did your body  have other things to prioritize other than that message

  • Was the message delayed in sending 

  • Was the receiving end on a ‘do not disturb’ setting 

  • Did the call go out but reach a busy signal 

  • If the message was not received in a timely manner how delayed was it and did the receiving party need to make other arrangements to continue forward 


These are all possible scenarios, as well as many more. We also must remember our body is an ecosystem and these messages have a cause and effect with other systems. This can be similar to nature. Every species has a role in the ecosystem that extends far outside of their species existence. Lastly, it must be noted that these messages do not just affect the present month but can affect your menstrual cycle and subsequent systems  60-90+ days from where the kerfuffle in messaging or prioritization took place. 


A female's menstrual cycle is typically between 21 and 35 days. You will most often hear 28 being utilized , but there is a range at play here. Please note again, 21 or 35 is not any better nor worse than 28 it is merely a range. The nuance comes into play of what is typical for you. If you typically have a 31 days cycle and this becomes 21 consistently it is worth investigating just as much as if 31 extends to 40+ days typically it is also worth investigating and understanding your body is telling you something (regardless if you like the message or not). 


The phases of your menstrual cycle can be divided into 2 main phases when discussing what is happening with your ovaries but also 4 phases when discussing your uterus. 



The 3 ovarian phases:


  • FOLLICULAR PHASE

  • OVULATION

  • LUTEAL PHASE


The 4 phases of your uterus:


  • MENSTRUATION

  • PROLIFERATIVE PHASE

  • OVULATION

  • SECRETORY PHASE



Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of menstruation. Raise of hands who thought your period was the end. It is actually the beginning celebration like an opening ceremony. It is worth also noting that menstruation is not a sign of ovulation nor is it an indication of optimal hormone levels for health and/or fertility. It is from this day 1 of menstruation till ovulation, your body (including your uterus) prepares for potential fertility regardless if fertility is the goal or not. Estrogen will be taking center stage as well testosterone will be making a welcomed cameo.


Ovulation is approximately day 15 (this is incredibly individual, but this is a best approximation of a hypothetical 28 day cycle). The egg's grand entrance and the corpus luteum incredible formation. Did you know that the corpus luteum becomes a fully vascularized structure that secretes hormones (namely progesterone but also to a much lesser degree estrogen) within 1 day! Yes ladies, you are super amazing and you do this monthly, or at least that is the goal as this is our most robust creation of progesterone. 


Post-ovulation until day 1 (your period) is your luteal phase where progesterone should be the all star as she rises bright like the star she is, although there is no ‘I’ in team. Estrogen and testosterone begin to fall back allowing progesterone her moment. The decrease in estrogen and rise of progesterone cause the uterine lining to stop thickening to receive the fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized progesterone will decline. The drop in these hormones along with rise in prostaglandins initiates your period. 


This is the basic mechanics of the rises and falls that are stimulating a cause-effect relationship. Let us reiterate that having a menstrual cycle is not just an indication that pregnancy has or has not happened, it is absolutely an indication that triggers for biological events throughout the entire body have indeed occurred.


If you have questions on how this relates to you and your journey or would like to know more please do not hesitate to reach out to the team below.





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