Oftentimes, people associate estrogen with the female reproductive system, but the truth is that without progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH), the female reproductive system would not be able to work properly. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) experience abnormalities in their hormone levels, which can lead to issues with their body’s ability to regulate its reproductive system correctly.
Every hormone has its own function, and estrogen is highly responsible for the development of the secondary sex characteristics of a woman. From the shape of the body to the ability to maintain a pregnancy, estrogen has a great amount of responsibility on its shoulders.
- Estrogen is manufactured in the ovaries.
- This hormone guides the development of the entire female reproductive system, as well as the development of the skeletal system.
- Estrogen contributes to the regulation of the monthly menstrual cycle.
- This hormone ensures that fluids are produced to neutralize the female reproductive system, allowing for the survival of sperm and subsequent conception of a child.
- Estrogen also contributes to the success of a pregnancy and sparks the growth of milk ducts in preparation for lactation.
Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) do have estrogen, and can even have normal levels of estrogen. But issues arise when abnormally high levels of male hormones (androgens) overshadowed estrogen.
Progesterone is another important female reproductive hormone, and like estrogen its effects can be interrupted by excess androgens in women who suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Also released by the ovaries, progesterone is secreted after ovulation.
- This hormone is responsible for preparing the uterus for pregnancy.
- Progesterone stops ovulation if no conception takes place by stopping the release of FSH and LH.
- This hormone contributes to the maintenance of pregnancy once conception occurs.
- Progesterone both thickens the walls of the uterus in preparation for the birthing process and keeps the muscle in a relaxed state until the time comes to push.
- This hormone does not allow lactation until after the baby is born.
FSH and LH
Though produced in the pituitary gland in the brain, rather than in an ovary, FSH and LH are female hormones that play a major role in the reproductive system.
- FSH controls estrogen levels and initiates the growth of egg follicles.
- LH sparks ovulation once the egg follicles are fully developed.
Female reproductive hormones are important to understand when learning about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). By understanding the ways in which these hormones interact with one another, and the ways in which they affect the body, women with this disease can better cope with their symptoms.
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