When it comes to physical fitness and mental health and wellness, women face unique challenges. Although the male and female body are regulated by the nervous and hormonal system, the female reproductive system and the predominant hormones it produces are quite complex.
Hormones are natural substances produced by the body and are resposible for many bodily functions in addition to relaying messages between cells and organs. In females, the main sex hormones are oestrogen (usually referred to as estrogen) and progesterone. The production of these hormones primarily occurs in the ovaries and adrenal glands. The female sex hormonesinfluence mood, body weight, hair growth, bone and muscle growth.Understanding how the female reproductive and hormonal systems work, is beneficial to identifying and addressing any issues or symptoms that can be associated with hormonal imbalances. Understanding the menstrual cycle is vital to achieving better health and wellness and alleviating unwanted symptoms of PMS. This knowledge can allow for recognition and appreciation for changes in the body as the women enters the Perimenopause and Menopause stage of life.
Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
The length of the menstrual cycle is typically 28 days, but it can be highly variable. In some women it may be as short as 20 days or as long as 40 days. The female hormones fluctuate significantly throughout the cycle, which can be broken down into three phases, follicular, ovulatory and luteal.
The follicular phase starts on the first day of a woman’s period. During this phase, two hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), are released from the brain and travel in the blood to the ovaries. These hormones stimulate the growth of about 15 to 20 eggs in the ovaries, which are held in follicles. These hormones also trigger an increase in the production of the female hormone estrogen. As estrogen levels rise, the production of FSH ceases. This unique balance of hormones allows the body to limit the number of follicles that mature. As the follicular phase progresses, one follicle in one ovary becomes dominant and continues to mature. This dominant follicle suppresses all of the other follicles in the group. As a result, they stop growing and die. The dominant follicle continues to produce estrogen.
The ovulatory phase starts about fourteen days after the follicular phase started. This phase is the halfway point of the menstrual cycle. During this phase, there is a rise in estrogen from the dominant follicle, which triggers a surge in the amount of luteinizing hormone that is produced by the brain. This causes the dominant follicle to release its egg from the ovary. As the egg is released (the process called ovulation), it’s captured by finger-like projections on the end of the fallopian tubes (fimbriae). The fimbriae sweep the egg into the tube. Also during this phase, there is an increase in the amount and thickness of mucus produced by the cervix (lower part of the uterus). If a woman were to have intercourse during this time, the thick mucus captures the man’s sperm, nourishes it, and helps it to move towards the egg for fertilization.
Luteal Phase of the Menstrual Cycle
The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle begins right after ovulation. In this phase, once it releases its egg, the empty follicle develops into a new structure called the corpus luteum.The corpus luteum secretes the hormone progesterone. Progesterone prepares the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant.
If intercourse has taken place and a man’s sperm has fertilized the egg (a process called conception), the fertilized egg (embryo) will travel through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. The woman is now considered pregnant. If the egg is not fertilized, it passes through the uterus. Since there is no need to support a pregnancy, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) breaks down and sheds, and the next menstrual period begins.
Understanding the importance of Female sex hormones are an integral part of many bodily functions and will naturally fluctuate over time. Age, pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormonal contraception and menopause all will be contributing factors in expected changes. Hormonal imbalance such as PCOS, Androgen Excess and Hirsutism can be a sign of something more serious and if you are experiencing these issues or questionable issue your should see your medical practitioner immediately. It is always recommended to see your gynaecologist once a year for your annual physical. For added support Reset is designed to support healthy ovulation, hormonal cleansing and PMS symptoms.