Hormones are molecules produced by the endocrine system. In women, this system includes the ovaries, pancreas, thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, and pineal glands. Hormones contribute to the overall well-being and functioning of the human body. They impact an individual’s energy levels, physical health, mental clarity, as well as their reproductive, metabolic, and immune systems. As people age, their physical systems gradually give way to a process called senescence, also known as biological aging. As this occurs, organs will slowly deteriorate and their functionality will change. Part of this change includes a decrease in the body’s hormone levels.
Hormones and Women
There are several different hormones found in females. Of these, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are sex hormones that can influence physical, mental, and emotional changes as they deplete over time.
The hormone Estrogen in women
Estrogen is produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. This hormone is sub-categorized as Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), Estriol (E3), and Estetrol (E4). Estrone is predominant during menopause, Estradiol is predominant during a woman’s reproductive years, Estriol is connected to serum levels, and Estetrol is produced in the body when a woman is pregnant.
As estrogen levels deplete, women may experience vaginal atropy, urinary incontinence, increased urinary tract infections, skin changes such as wrinkles and sagging skin, mood changes including irritability and depression, loss of energy, hot flashes, and a decreased interest in sex. Estrogen also plays an important role in helping to protect the body against certain health conditions including, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.
The hormone Progesterone in women
The hormone progesterone is produced in the ovaries, and performs several important roles in the female body. Among these roles include:
- Preparing the uterus for pregnancy by supporting its lining
- Stimulates new bone growth, maintains bone and helps protect against osteoporosis
- Acts as a natural tranquilizer to improve sleep
- Plays a role in protecting against breast and uterine cancer
- Beneficial in controlling the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
The hormone Testosterone in women
While primarily associated with men, the hormone testosterone is also found in females. In women, testosterone is produced by the adrenal glands and ovaries, and affects emotional and physical health. Testosterone plays a role in the following:
- Sexual libido
- Fat distribution in the body
- Female fertility
- Muscle mass
- Bone density
- Cholesterol / good cholesterol
- Cognitive function
Hormone replacement therapy is not a cure-all. It will not reverse the aging process, or keep individuals permanently at one age. Also, it is not recommended that individuals self-medicate with over-the-counter hormonal supplements. In most instances, these supplements contain an insufficient dose to make any difference to the body.
Women who are interested in hormone replacement therapy should do so under the supervision of a medical provider. The provider will want to review the patient’s medical history, current conditions, medications, symptoms, and run laboratory tests before prescribing treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about hormone replacement therapy, contact Urology Austin to schedule a consultation with one of our providers who specialize in female urology.