Estrogen And The Menstrual Cycle In Humans
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women and it functions during thereproductive menstrual cycle. Women have three major typesof estrogen: estrone, estradiol, and estriol, which bind to andactivate receptors within the body. Researchers discovered the threetypes of estrogen over a period of seven years, contributing to more detailed descriptions of the menstrual cycle. Each type of estrogenmolecule contains a slightly different arrangement or number of atomsthat in turn causes some of the estrogens to be moreactive than others. The different types of estrogen peak and wanethroughout women’s reproductive cycles, from normal menstruation topregnancy to the cessation of menstruation . As scientistsbetter explained the effects of estrogens, they used that information to developoral contraceptives to control pregnancy, to map the menstrual cycle,and to create hormone therapies to regulate abnormal levels of estrogen.
Later, researchers used Doisy’s methods to create hormone therapiesfor women who lacked proper levels of estradiol. Researchers couldcause changes in the menstrual cycle, as they had the ability to givewomen estradiol, the most biologically active estrogenhormone thatpredominates during the menstrual cycle.
How Can I Keep Track Of My Menstrual Cycle
You can keep track of your menstrual cycle by marking the day you start your period on a calendar. After a few months, you can begin to see if your periods are regular or if your cycles are different each month.
You may want to track:
- Premenstrual syndrome symptoms: Did you have cramping, headaches, moodiness, forgetfulness, bloating, or breast tenderness?
- When your bleeding begins: Was it earlier or later than expected?
- How heavy the bleeding was on your heaviest days: Was the bleeding heavier or lighter than usual? How many pads or tampons did you use?
- Period symptoms: Did you have pain or bleeding on any days that caused you to miss work or school?
- How many days your period lasted: Was your period shorter or longer than the month before?
You can also download apps for your phone to track your periods. Some include features to track your PMS symptoms, energy and activity levels, and more.
How Is A Hormonal Imbalance Diagnosed
First, make an appointment with a health care provider for a physical exam. The health care provider will ask about your symptoms. Then, depending on your symptoms, they will suggest which hormone imbalance tests to do. These could be evaluations like:
- Blood test: Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroxine, TTH, insulin, and cortisol levels can be detected in the blood.
- Pelvic exam: A health care provider will search for any lumps or cysts.
- Ultrasound: Images of your uterus, ovaries, thyroid, and pituitary gland can be obtained.
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Plasma Phospholipids Were Significantly Reduced In The Luteal Phase
Of the 139 lipid species with detectable plasma levels, 57 reached statistical significance, , for 1 to 5 phase contrast comparisons: L-F, L-M, L-O, P-L and O-M . Thirty eight percent of the lipid species tested consistently showed a statistically significant decrease in the luteal phase relative to the follicular and in some cases, relative to the menstrual phase with 7 compounds showing a decrease in comparison to the premenstrual phase and 2 in comparison to the periovulatory phase. One compound, LPE 22:6, showed a statistically significant difference in 4 out of the 5 phase contrasts: L-F, L-M, L-O and P-L. After multiple testing, at q< 0.20, 17 lipid species met this threshold for L-F including 6 LPCs, 10 PCs and 1 LPE. One other LPC met this threshold for O-M .
Changes During The Menstrual Cycle
The appearance of the ovary changes with age and phase of the menstrual cycle. Under the influence of follicle-stimulating hormone , human follicular development begins with a follicular size of approximately 0.03mm with potential ovulation after more than 150 days of growth. It is only after follicles reach approximately 4mm that they are routinely visualized by ultrasound. During the menstrual cycle, multiple immature, less than 1-cm follicles appear in the early follicular phase before day 10. Subsequently, one or more ovulatory follicles become dominant, increasing in size to 18 to 25mm in average diameter. The average size of the dominant follicle is 20mm in diameter at ovulation, which usually occurs on day 14 of a normal 28-day menstrual cycle. The other follicles become atretic. The disappearance of the dominant follicle with associated free fluid in the pelvis signifies ovulation. Other, less specific and sensitive findings may include irregularity of the cyst wall with internal echoes.11 Afollicular cyst develops if ovulation does not occur and follicular growth continues because of the lack of the luteinizing hormone surge and excessive stimulation by FSH.
Tolu Oyelowo DC, in, 2007
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The Hypothalamus And The Pituitary
The hypothalamus is located centrally in the brain and communicates by way of an exchange of blood with the pituitary gland. Several neuroendocrine agents, or hormones, are produced by the hypothalamus. The most important hormone for reproduction is called gonadotropin releasing hormone, better known as GnRH. It is released in a rhythmic fashion every 60 to 120 minutes.
GnRH stimulates the pituitary gland to produce follicle stimulating hormone , the hormone responsible for starting follicle development and causing the level of estrogen, the primary female hormone, to rise. Leutinizing hormone , the other reproductive pituitary hormone, aids in egg maturation and provides the hormonal trigger to cause ovulation and the release of eggs from the ovary.
How Ovulation Might Feel
Ovulation is generally regular without any extra symptoms aside from changes in vaginal secretion. Cervical mucus increases in quantity and becomes clear and stretchy, like egg whites, during this phase.
Different types of vaginal discharge occur throughout the cycle, so discharge that slightly changes color and consistency may be normal. During ovulation, there may be mild soreness on the side of the body where the ovary is releasing an egg. This is called mittelschmerz and can last from a few minutes to one to two days. Mittelschmerz is completely normal, and its also normal not to experience it.
However, if theres a sharp pain in the belly during ovulation or an excessive amount of discharge, its possible that there are underlying health issues that need medical treatment.
Vitamin D And Pyridoxic Acid Increased In The Menstrual Phase
Nineteen clinical parameters were tested including eight B vitamins, cofactors and metabolites. C reactive protein was statistically significant in L-F , while high density lipoprotein , triglycerides and cholesterol were statistically significant in L-F . Glucose showed rhythmicity with a statistically significant decrease in the luteal phase in comparison to menstrual, pre-menstrual and periovulatory phases . Magnesium showed a statistically significant decrease in L-M and O-M and riboflavin showed a statistically significant decrease in luteal vs. pre-menstrual phases. However, these results were not significant when corrected for multiple testing . Vitamin D showed significant decreases in L-F, L-M and O-M with L-M and O-M and met the multiple testing threshold q< 0.20). Moreover, the menstrual phase consistently showed higher levels of vitamin D. Pyridoxic acid also showed an elevation in the menstrual compared to the periovulatory phases .
What Is The Luteinising Hormone
Luteinising hormone, like a follicle-stimulating hormone, is a gonadotrophic hormone produced and released by cells in the anterior pituitary gland.
It is crucial in regulating the function of the testes in men and ovaries in women.
In women, the luteinising hormone carries out different roles in the two halves of the menstrual cycle. In weeks one to two of the cycle, luteinising hormone is required to stimulate the ovarian follicles in the ovary to produce the female sex hormone, oestradiol.
Around day 14 of the cycle, a surge in luteinising hormone levels causes the ovarian follicle to tear and release a mature oocyte from the ovary, a process called ovulation.
For the remainder of the cycle , the remnants of the ovarian follicle form a corpus luteum.
The luteinising hormone stimulates the corpus luteum to produce progesterone, which is required to support the early stages of pregnancy if fertilisation occurs.
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What Is Follicle Stimulating Hormone
Follicle-stimulating hormone is one of the gonadotropic hormones, the other being the luteinising hormone, and both are released by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream.
Follicle-stimulating hormone is essential to pubertal development. In women, this hormone stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles in the ovary before the release of an egg and it also increases a type of oestrogen.
Assessment Of Ovarian Function After Therapy
Menstrual cycles can cease during or after treatment but have the potential to return. However, even if a womans menstrual cycle resumes after cancer treatment is completed, her fertility is still uncertain. Females that resume menses after treatment are still risk for early menopause.3 In the case the patient is interested in learning the status of her fertility postcancer treatment, she has the option to perform blood tests to measure hormone levels in the bloodstream. These blood tests are the best way to interpret the status of the ovarian reserve at the present time and can provide some guidance regarding the impact of the patients treatment on her fertility. Ovarian reserve test results should be analyzed by a RE at which point the patient would be counseled regarding treatment options based on the results.3
F. Baker, K. Scheuermaier, in, 2013
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How Hormones Work Together
The menstrual cycle has three distinct phases in which your hormones work together to regulate specific aspects of the cycle. In the follicular period, which occurs before the release of the egg, estrogen and progesterone levels are low, causing the endometrium to break down, which results in bleeding. Once bleeding begins, the FSH levels increase to promote follicle development. As one follicle continues to mature, it releases more estrogen into the body.
During the next phase of the menstrual cycle, ovulation, LH and FSH levels increase, which promotes ovulation, the specific time when the follicle releases an egg. During ovulation, estrogen levels decrease in a woman’s body, and progesterone levels begin to rise. Once ovulation has occurred, the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle begins.
During the third and final stage of the menstrual cycle, LH and FSH levels decrease, and the mass of cells left where the follicle ruptured and released the egg produces progesterone. In the background, estrogen levels remain high, and together with progesterone, promote the thickening of the endometrium, which will shed and start the cycle again if fertilization does not occur.
The Importance Of Menstrual Cycle Regulation
Menstrual cycle characteristics such as total cycle length and duration of the menstrual bleed may influence fecundity. A cycle length of 3031 days and a menstrual bleed of 45 days are the best for successful conception. For example, a year-long study of 470 women found:212
Most fertile cycles were 3031 days long, with longer or shorter cycles less likely to result in conception.
If conception occurred in the shorter or longer cycles, this was more likely to result in miscarriages.
Cycles with a menstrual bleed of 4 days were less fertile.
Conceptions occurring in cycles with a menstrual bleed of 5 days were less likely to result in miscarriages.
Menstrual cycle characteristics have also been shown to influence the outcomes of assisted reproductive treatments. A prospective study of 6271 IVF/ICSI treatment cycles showed a direct significant relationship between mean cycle length and implantation, response to ovarian stimulation, pregnancy and live birth rates, even after adjusting for womens age, with live birth rates almost double in women with cycle length > 34 days compared with women with cycle length < 26 days.213 Another study found that women with shorter cycles had fewer aspirated follicles than women with longer cycles .214
Therefore, the use of acupuncture to help regulate the menstrual cycle is likely to assist a woman to successfully conceive, particularly as a fundamental part of the preparation for ART.
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Why Is The Menstrual Cycle Important To Sexual Health
The menstrual cycle is the time from the first day of a female’s period to the day before their next period, the length of a menstrual cycle varies but on average is 28 days and consists of four stages the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and luteal phase . Females typically reach puberty and start experiencing menstrual periods when they are 1114 years old. The menstrual cycle is important as it is a primary contributor to female mood and behavior . The premenstrual phase of a cycle has long been linked with low mood, and large quantitative reviews have found 26% greater risks of suicide deaths, attempts , and psychiatric admissions at premenstruation . In adolescents, menstruation is often described as a vital sign of health . Understanding one’s own menstrual cycle is thus important for women and especially adolescents. Technology may help teenagers appreciate not only why it is important for them to understand their own menstrual cycle but also provide them with the modality to track their menstrual cycle on a mobile app. Health tracking has captured a lot of attention in recent years, although there has been less of a focus on women’s health tracking specifically . The menstrual cycle is important to sexual health, as tracking the menstrual cycle and being aware of fertile days can be used as a contraceptive method and as a way to plan conception.
Fig. 9.1. Illustration of the menstrual cycle.
Walter F. Boron MD, PhD, inMedical Physiology, 2017
Milestones In Sexual Development
During puberty, sexual development occurs in a set sequence. However, when the changes begin and how quickly they occur vary from person to person. For girls, puberty begins at age 8 1/2 to 10 years and lasts about 4 years. The chart shows a typical sequence and normal range of development for the milestones of sexual development.
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Organic Acids And Endocannobinoids Showed Different Patterns Between Phases
Sixteen organic acid metabolites had concentration levels above the respective limit of quantification in plasma out of which 10 reached statistical significance, p< 0.05. Inositol, pyroglutamic acid and methylmalonic acid reached the multiple testing threshold for L-M for all 3 metabolites and L-O for inositol and pyroglutamic acid.
Twenty-three organic acid metabolites were analyzed in urine, of which 14 were statistically significant, p< 0.05, in various contrasts. Uracil, succinic acid and citric acid reached the multiple testing threshold q< 0.20 for O-M .
In plasma, 19 endocannabinoids had detectable levels, of which 5 demonstrated statistical significance p< 0.05 across L-F, L-M, L-O, and O-M and LEA reached statistical significance for L-F,L-M and L-O and met the multiple testing threshold for L-F .
Week 3 Begins The Day After Ovulation And Lasts 8 Days : Progesterone Rises Estrogen And Testosterone Drop The First Half This Week Then Estrogen Rises Again
Your Week 3 is really a two-parter: During the first half, you can experience a pre-PMS phase. The symptoms are like a shorter, less intense version of premenstrual syndrome and may include irritability, fatigue and a down mood. Like PMS, this pre-PMS phase is also caused by plunging estrogen. While most women are aware that estrogen plunges once in their cyclein the six days before their periodnot many realize there are actually two estrogen dips every cycle .
Luckily, by the second half of your Week 3, estrogen rises again, putting a stop to any annoying pre-PMS symptoms youve experienced, which helps level out your mood.
Progesterone rises throughout your Week 3 and, as it does, it slows you down and makes you quieter, more cautious and a bit foggy and physically fatigued. Thats because progesterone is a sedating hormone. If youre sensitive to progesterone, this can be a cycle phase when you experience bouts of sadness or crying.
During your Week 3, progesterone has you craving favorite comfort foods that are high in fat and calories. Your appetite is also greater and youre hungrier more often, so you tend to eat more at meals and snack more frequently. All this is because your body thinks you might have gotten pregnant during ovulation, so progesterone wants you to eat enough for two.
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Season: Summerarchetype: Mother Healerovulation Phase
Summer phase is when things begin to heat up literally and metaphorically. This is the third week of the menstrual cycle, where ovulation occurs.
A woman with a 29.5-day cycle may ovulate on the 14th day, though some will ovulate a bit earlier or later. I ovulate on day 17 for example, and my cycle varies from 29.5 to 33 days. During the summer phase or mother phase, a womans energy is more expressive and outward. She may feel more social, and this is a great time to focus on community building, nurturing relationships, hosting, cooking or being of service to others. Summer week is the most enjoyable time for taking care of children, offering friends support and having lots of delicious sex with your partner, with caution of course, because while pleasure is heightened at this time, so is your fertility. Oh, and by the way, some research suggests that ovulation is the best time to ask for what you want whether that be from your partner, or asking for a raise at work.
Keywords/Phrases: outward and expressive, flirty, creative, playful, community-focused, relationship building, service, nurturing, love-making, creating, building, holding space for others.
Evolution And Other Species
Most female mammals have an estrous cycle, but only ten primate species, four bat species, the elephant shrews and the spiny mouse species Cairo spiny mouse have a menstrual cycle. The cycles are the same as in humans apart from the length, which ranges from 9 to 37 days. The lack of immediate relationship between these groups suggests that four distinct evolutionary events have caused menstruation to arise. In species that have a menstrual cycle, ovulation is not obvious to potential mates and there is no mating season. There are four theories on the evolutionary significance of menstruation:
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