Overview of Female Hormones

May 15, 2017


Herbal medicine has so much to offer women of all ages hormones bring health and balance to their hormonal cycles. But first, before one begins taking herbs, it is important to understand the role of your hormone play in your day to day life. 

This is a brief summary of the function of your hormones in plain easy to understand language. 


Follicule Stimulating Hormone (FSH) or Fresh Start Hormone

Origin: Pituitary Gland triggered by release of Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus

Function: Stimulate follicle development during first half of menstrual cycle.Low levels of oestrogen and progesterone following menstruation trigger FSH release.

Physical effects: Stimulate the development of several follicles in the ovaries and the release of oestrogen from the ovaries.

Psychological effects: This is a creative dynamic time. Women often feel extroverted and most attractive.

Imbalance: Lack if menstruation


Oestrogen: Class of three hormones: Estradiol, Estrone, Estriol.

Origin: Ovaries. Small amounts from the adrenal glands, fat and placenta during pregnancy.

Function: Prepare the uterus for fertilization through increase in the thickness of the endometrial lining and enhanced blood supply. To do this, estrogen lowers the thyroid’s function.

Physical effects: Development of breasts, hips, pubic and underarm hair and maturation of skeleton during puberty. Oestrogen supports maintenance of bones, skin and blood vessels, thickens the blood, increases fat and water and salt retention while slowing bowel motility. All these activities relate directly to preparing the uterus for a fertilized egg.

Psychological effects: CNS and serotonin stimulant.Also associated with rise in beta-endophrin hormone (feel good, feel no pain)Its help makes you smarter and feel good about yourself. Its an optimistic hormone.There is a rise in left hemisphere activity in the brain. This means we talk and think clearly.

Imbalance: Fibrocystic breastsEndometriosisMood swingsInfertilityPainful, cramping periods.Heavy bleedingHigh levels interfere with Thyroid hormoneCancer


Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Or Getting Laid Hormone

Origin: Pituitary Gland triggered by release of Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus

Function: A surge of LH is released approximately 36 hours prior to ovulation. LH release is controlled by the level of oestrogen in the blood.

Signs that LH has been released and that the you are fertile are in appearing order:

1. Cervical mucous

2. Rising and softening of the cervix

3. Temperature rise 

Physical effects: Leads to formation of corpus luteum on ovary which secretes high levels of progesterone.

Psychological effects: Increase sex drive due to pheromones.

Imbalance: Relatively high levels in Polycystic ovary syndrome or precocious puberty

High levels lead to premature menopause

Low level can be the cause of absent periods


Progesterone Or The Nesting Hormone, or Its All About Me Hormone.

Origin: Ovaries (corpus luteum) and the placenta during pregnancy.

Function: To prepare uterus for the fertilized ovum and nourish it. If fertilization does not take place, progesterone levels drop leading to menstruation.

Progesterone levels are maintained if one conceives and drop just before labour.

Important precursor to adrenal cortex hormones, oestrogen and androgens.

Antagonistic to oestrogens: infers with oestrogen secretion and absorption

Physical effects: Increase cervical and vaginal secretions.

Thicken the uterus walls and increase blood supply and mucous secretion.

Rise body temperature.

Reduces smooth muscle tension. (bowels, lungs, uterus, etc.)

Anti-inflammatory and regulates immune response.

Reduces gall bladder activity.

Normalizes blood clotting and vascular tone.

Uses fat for energy

Aids thyroid function, bone building and tendon, ligament and skin resilience. Loosens collagen formation.

Aids nerve function through regulating myelin (covering on nerves)

Regulates the effects of oestrogen.

Psychological effects: This is considered the reflective time of the cycle. There is an increase in right brain activity. We are not as outward turned. More involved in nesting. It is during this time that we evaluate our lives and the powerful emotions of PMS are seeded. The needs we express just before menstruation when the progesterone levels drop, are due to this period of evaluation. They need to be paid attention to, even when the up swing of oestrogen takes hold.

Continues to build beta-endophrin levels

Imbalance: Miscarriage

Moodiness and depression

Hot flashes, night sweats

Weight gain, bloating

Breast tenderness


Androgens (testosterone, DHEA) or The Drive

Origin: Ovaries and adrenal glands

Function: Libido

Physical effects: Bone mineralization

Build or maintain muscle mass

Psychological effects: Increase in energy, Get up and go.

Imbalance: Excessive hair growth or loss of hair, has a relationship with insulin imbalance


Not a hormone, but important

The liver builds precursors to the ovarian hormones as well as breaks them down. Therefore a congested liver participates in hormonal imbalance.

Calcium and magnesium are two minerals which follow the estrogen/progesterone cycle. When the hormone levels fall just before bleeding begins,   so do the levels of calcium and magnesium in the blood. This can account for decrease in pain tolerance, insomnia, and pain.

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