Women’s Hormones Defined

How they work and why we need them

Hormones are molecular messages. They manage important processes in all body systems. Reproductive functions are a top priority for the success of the human race and in women, estradiol and progesterone are the major hormones in a healthy reproductive system. Women also produce the androgen hormone testosterone, an important hormone from the ovary that drives reproduction.

The role of hormones in health

From puberty until the beginning of menopause (aka perimenopause), the role of sex hormones in a women’s health is about driving reproduction. In general, healthy young adult women have high levels of ovarian hormones compared to menstruating women forty or older. As a woman ages, those levels slowly decline.

When a woman reaches perimenopause, the ovaries are producing much less of the sex hormones. Initially, ovulation starts to sputter: estrogen is low and progesterone may be low or non-existent during some cycles. During these times, the body leans on the adrenal glands to make androgens (which convert into estrogens in fat deposits). Later, these fat deposits are the post-menopause source of estrogens – mostly estrone.

Menopause is the permanent loss of a woman’s sex hormone system. Metabolic imbalance, which results from this loss, can lead to many degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and dementia — unless the sex hormone system is restored appropriately.  How we age, and whether we become impacted by metabolic imbalance can be affected by a variety of factors such as genetics, environmental exposures, poor nutrition, lifestyle habits and loss or decline of any hormone system.