As a woman, we are not immune to dealing with our hormones – and we know that they tend to fluctuate wildly around our menstrual cycle. But what are some of our major hormones? What do they do?
What Is A Hormone?
First of all, a hormone itself, so we are all on the same page, is a special chemical that your body produces in the endocrine system as essentially a communicator. Those endocrine glands release hormones into your bloodstream to make contact with your tissues, your organs, and even your very cells to get a handle on major bodily functions to keep you balanced and your body informed about itself.
What Are The Major Hormones?
While your body has actually over 50 different hormones, there are some basic, major ones we will focus on instead.
First up, adrenaline! Adrenaline is what triggers that jolt of fight-or-flight in your body either instantly or within a few minutes of experiencing a stressful or harrowing situation. It causes your air passages to dilate so that your muscles can get all the oxygen you need to either fight the danger or take off running away.
Then there is estrogen. This hormone is one we are all familiar with hearing about, especially in regard to our periods. It controls the menstrual cycle itself and also promotes healthy and strong bones. And, while it is primarily talked about in women, men do have estrogen, too.
Insulin is another major hormone that regulates a whole bunch of your metabolic processes, including providing your cells with much-needed energy and aiding your body through digestion.
When it comes to social bonding and feeling good, oxytocin enters the game. It is often called the “love hormone” because it is released when getting physically close to someone (in a good way!) it also aids in childbirth and helps produce and release breastmilk.
For blood sugar control, your body turns to the hormone cortisol. Specifically for pregnant women, this chemical plays a major role in supporting the development of the fetus.
And since we all value our sleepy time, melatonin is a favorite and important hormone. It is quite literally your body’s internal clock and it directs the body when to calm down, relax and lower that internal temperature so you can drift off to sleep. Sometimes, it does betray us and seems to not be kicking in a night – or, instead, kicking in at inopportune times during the day.
Lastly in terms of widely known hormones – but surprisingly so! - is vitamin D. Yup, despite the name, it is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin, which explains why it is not really found in many foods. Vitamin D is mostly absorbed by your body from the sun and it plays a crucial role in then absorbing calcium into your bloodstream.