Being a women is such a beautiful thing and to understanding our own bodies is another added beauty. We have a lot that goes on hormonally during our cycles, they chop and change all the time to ensure your body is healthy enough to support, nourish and essentially be ready for a future baby.
It’s the truth.
As women, we are designed to carry and reproduce. So naturally we go through a lot with our bodies to re-create the human existence.
It’s definitely something women should be aware of to understand why our bodies do what they do each month. Not only for reproduction measures but also for your overall mind-body health.
Both Females and Males hold reproductive hormones, in this blurb will primarily focus on the female hormonal cycle (To all the men - will get on to your hormones very soon!)
There is a very large number of hormones that help get our cycles regular, make our brains happy and allow our bodies to change for the good to ensure the smooth process of menstruation or conception.
Below is the list of hormones that are involved at all stages of the cycle, but some of these will increase or decrease depending on the stage you are in.
Here is the list, the very big list:
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) Released by the pituitary gland to stimulate follicle development
- Luteinising Hormone (LH) promotes the release of the follicles
- Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) made from the liver to bring to oestrogen, testosterone and dihydrotesterone and carries them in the blood
- Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate (DHEA-S) produced by the adrenal glands and metabolised into a range of reproductive hormones including testosterone, oestrogen and cortisol (stress hormone)
- Anti- Mullein Hormone (AMH) is produced by the primary developing follicle to prevent other follicles to be stimulated
- Prolactin produced in large amounts during breastfeeding and also produced to trigger oestrogen
- Progesterone supports the uterus for pregnancy and is released when the follicle become the corpus lute
- Estradiol (E2) is a type of oestrogen produced by the developing follicles.
- Testosterone balanced progesterone and oestrogen during the cycle as well as it is released to shed the lining of the endometrium safely during menstruation.
Woah.... This is a whole lot to remember for some women but.... there is a but. You need to get a basic understanding of these so you can understand what could be impacted hormonally if something changes in your cycle or goes wrong.
The following is an explanation in Western and Chinese medicine of each phase of the hormone cycle during your period.
Western Medicine explains your cycle with the release of hormones at different stages, yet chinese medicine looks at your cycle as different phases of your yin,yang,blood,qi and body fluids. (Which will be explained through out each phase)
Menstrual phase (From day 1 to 5) . The endometrium is discharged from the body through the help of all three progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone. FSH & LH are stimulated to start the production of a new egg. This is a blood moving and yin phase of the cycle in Chinese medicine phase of a women's cycle. This means as your period comes you are letting go of a lot of blood and regenerating the yin (building the endometrium back up) to restore the uterus to it's balanced state.
During this phase of the cycle it's important to not do any strenuous exercise or start a stressful project as this could interfere with the cleansing of your endometrial lining.
Light walks, light food, warm fluids and lots of laughter are the things you need during this stage. Who doesn't want to laugh more anyway?
Follicular phase (7 Days after menstruation) . Oestrogen is more dominant as the endometrial lining becomes thicker and follicles develop. Nourishing the blood and yin is vital during this time period to regenerate everything that has been lost due to menstruation.
Yin in nature is quieter, restful. nourishing, moistening and cooling. All of yin’s characteristics effect the health of our organs and tissues. For women especially when it comes to the uterus as it’s important for nourishment and the development of the follicles. People who tend to be a bit more yin deficient will feel more restless, thirsty, warm in temperature than usual, worry or prone to anxiety.
If you feel you are have some of these than it’s important to take a lot of rest time to enjoy activities you love doing what that may be so you get your down time. Spend less time with your electronics as that will stimulate stressors in the body. You find that going for a nice walk without your phone will allow you to fully relax.
Ovulation phase (Day 14) . LH peaks to trigger the release of the egg from the dominant follicle. Cervical discharge increases and is a healthy egg white clear consistency. Fluids are high and yin is at it’s peak ready to transform in to the yang energy. Yang is the opposite of yin but cannot exist without each other.
Yang is drying, warm and active, this allows for activation of the egg from the follicles to travel down the fallopian tube. This phase is really important to allow the smooth transition into the yang phase as this will also determine whether you will conceive or not for a baby.
Warmth to your pelvic floor is a good idea around this time, having a heat pack or doing pelvic follow exercises will encourage the yang to move more freely. Having a stable environment and feeling content in your life will free you from PMS and any issues for your yin transforming into your yang phase.
Luteal phase (From day 15 to 28) The corpus luteum (the “shell” of the dominant follicle from which the egg was released) begins to secrete progesterone, further changing the uterine lining and causing your body temperature to be consistently higher, this is why you may feel warmer getting to your period. The egg travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus. If the egg has been fertilised, implantation occurs.
This phase is all about the Yang, blood and Qi (vital energy) movement in the body. Yang is at it’s peak which will transform the endometrial lining and prepare it for excretion for the menstrual phase. Yang energy is really important for giving life to your emotions and motivational forces to get up and get going. When conception hasn’t occurred menstruation will occur when the yang is at it’s peak. - Hence the warm body!
This is a time to move your body to get your blood moving preparing for your menstrual phase. So be playful, have fun and try new things before your menstrual phase.
From a Chinese medicine perspective each of these stages also gives us (practitioners) an understanding of where your body should be with not only hormones but your Yin & yang stages, blood nourishment and Qi. If periods are regular each of these will flow naturally within each stage but if something is wrong with your period than most likely these are out of whack. So what we want to do is make sure each stage is effectively working correctly and flowing normally.
Each phase in the cycle can be nourished and helped along when seeking treatment. Acupuncture is really effective as well as introducing herbs in to your daily routine over a 3-6 month cycle will ensure a healthy cycle and hormonal balance.
Having conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis etc can be treated with Chinese medicine. Generally treatments will go over a 3 months period to ensure that hormones are balanced and cycles are becoming more regular. More blogs to come about women's health very soon! For now get to know your hormones well!