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Brown Girl U: Mahila Facts – Hormones

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by Atiya Hasan 

Read the intro Brown Girl U: Mahila Facts

How many times have you blamed your latest acne break out on hormones? Or your irrational desire to cry over a restaurant not getting your order right?

Personally, I despise when a man tries to blame anything I do on my hormones but I’m usually more than ready to blame my own shortcomings to hormonal changes to console myself. Hopefully, today you’ll learn exactly which hormones are active in your body and be able to blame the appropriate culprits by name.

It’s important for me to remind you that keeping track of your menstrual cycle is important. There are a few apps available that will help you do this. Using the calendar on your computer or your e-mail is also a good option.

A normal menstrual cycle is about 28 days long. A variation of 8 days is considered normal. Day 1 is marked by the first day of menstruation. Menstruation can last anywhere from 5-7 days. During this period all levels of hormones are low except for the Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH). While the uterus is busy with the excretion and shedding of its upper layers, the FSH is stimulating parts of the ovary that contain the eggs. Each of these tiny parts known as an ovarian follicle contains a single egg. Every woman is born with these follicles that become active upon reaching puberty.

Once menstruation ends, the Follicular Phase begins (also known as the Proliferative Phase). This can last anywhere from Day 5-7 to Day 12-13. The one follicle that has garnered the most attention from FSH prepares itself for ovulation. This dominant follicle continues to grow and can be called a Graafian Follicle. It begins to secrete Estradiol ,which is one of the kinds of estrogen present in our bodies (Yup, we do have a lot of it). This is a feel good hormone, you’ll probably feel more feminine and sexier during this time. Women also notice a mucus discharge during this time.

Towards the end of the Follicular Phase the high levels of Estradiol kick off the surge in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and begins Ovulation. The LH surge lasts for about 48 hours and cause the maturation of the follicle and weakens its walls releasing the egg that promptly matures into the ovum. It is brushed into the fallopian tubes where it awaits fertilization for about a day as the Corpus Luteum.

The Luteal Phase (also known as the Secretory Phase) begins around Day 16 and occurs when the Corpus Luteum continues to grow after the end of Ovulation. It secretes high levels of Progesterone that is responsible for the increase in tissue and blood circulation in the topmost layer of the uterus known as the endometrium. This is done so that the egg will be well cushioned when it enters the uterus after being fertilized in the fallopian tubes in preparation for the following pregnancy. The Luteal Phase lasts about 14 days. If the Corpus Luteum is not fertilized, the luteum and the endometrial cushioning is destroyed and shed. It is removed from the body during menstruation.

Progesterone typically causes a sedative effect on the body. You are more likely to feel depressed and tired when these levels are high. This is also when you can expect PMS to be in full swing.

Different levels of hormones effect on everything from acne breakouts to hunger and cravings. Logging and keeping track of your menstrual cycle will help you understand yourself and anticipate changes. It will help you prepare yourself in advance and stock up on that Dutch Chocolate ice cream you love so much!

If you have questions or suggestions for topics you would like me to incorporate into future lessons, feel free to e-mail me at atiya.hasan@browngirlmagazine.com!

Images via: top, bottom, right

Sources: 1, 2

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