Every month, your body gets ready to have a baby. If you don’t get pregnant, you get your period, and your menstrual cycle starts again.
Changing hormone levels control your menstrual cycle, from ovulation to uterine bleeding. If you experience an imbalance at any point in your cycle, problematic periods and other symptoms can result.
At Progressive Women’s Health in Friendswood, Texas, board-certified OB/GYN Asia Mohsin, MD, specializes in identifying problems regarding female hormones. She’s also an expert in creating personalized treatment plans to address these issues.
Here’s a look at how your hormones affect menstruation and the ways we can help you reclaim control of your cycle.
Understanding reproductive hormones
Your body makes many hormones, from insulin to cortisol. The main hormones linked to reproduction in women are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
These hormones play a key role in many parts of your reproductive cycle, including your puberty, menstruation, sex drive, pregnancy, menopause, and more. Here’s a closer look:
Estrogen plays a large role in your reproductive cycle throughout your life. Rather than one hormone, however, there are several types of estrogen.
Each has a different effect on your health. These estrogen hormones, produced in your ovaries and fat cells, travel throughout your body in your blood and affect many functions, including:
- Menstrual cycle
- Sleep cycle
- Bone health
- Cardiovascular system
- Cognitive health
- Skin and hair health
- Function of mucus membranes
- Milk production
- Urinary system
- Pelvic muscles
Not having enough estrogen can lead to serious health issues, such as osteoporosis (weak bones), fertility struggles, mood issues, and menstrual challenges.
Having too much estrogen can also cause significant health challenges, such as cancer, weight gain, sleep troubles, low sex drive, and mental health disorders.
Your progesterone hormones are produced by a gland called the corpus luteum. Progesterone is sometimes called the “pregnancy hormone,” because its main job is to prepare your womb for pregnancy.
It plays a role in the thickening of your uterine lining (endometrium) and uterine contractions. Issues with progesterone generally cause symptoms related to your periods or infertility.
Women have much less testosterone than men. It’s produced in your ovaries, fat cells, and adrenal glands. Imbalances in testosterone can trigger frustrating and sometimes life-changing issues for women, including:
- Problems with sex drive
- Challenges with hair and skin
- Issues with breast development
- Irregular periods
- Fertility struggles
- Red blood cell problems
Testosterone also affects your muscle strength and fat distribution, and an imbalance can affect these areas as well.
The link between your hormones and period
Every month during your reproductive years, your body gets ready for a potential pregnancy. Research shows estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and your other female hormones all play a role in your menstrual cycle.
First, your pituitary gland releases two hormones (FSH and LH) that travel to your ovaries and signal that it’s time to release eggs. This causes your estrogen levels to rise, and an egg is released.
Around this time, testosterone levels rise, increasing your sex drive. After you ovulate, testosterone and estrogen levels drop and your progesterone levels increase.
If you don’t conceive, both estrogen and progesterone decrease. This can trigger symptoms of PMS.
As you approach the end of your menstrual cycle, one of your progesterone hormones (prostaglandin) rises and triggers uterine contractions. This causes the lining of your uterus to shed and you get your period.
Imbalances in any of these key hormones can affect your menstrual cycle and cause irregular periods and other symptoms related to your reproductive cycle, including:
- Skipped periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Long or short cycles
- Mood swings
- Low sex drive
- Increasing pain during your period
- Digestive symptoms, such as constipation
Imbalances can also cause other issues, such as trouble sleeping, acne and skin symptoms, problems with your weight, and insulin resistance.
Help for imbalanced hormones and irregular periods
If you’re concerned about how your hormones affect your menstrual cycle, it’s important to talk with Dr. Mohsin. Treatments exist, but the right one depends on the root cause of your menstrual problem.
Dr. Mohsin evaluates your medical history, talks with you about your periods and symptoms, and conducts a comprehensive physical exam. She may also order blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies — such as an ultrasound — to get to the bottom of your irregular periods.
Then, to address your symptoms and the underlying problem, Dr. Mohsin creates a personalized treatment plan, which could include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Improving sleep hygiene
- Replacing medications that can affect hormones
- Taking hormonal birth control
For women approaching menopause, Dr. Mohsin may also recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
If you’re concerned about hormone imbalances or are experiencing irregular periods, Dr. Mohsin can help you get well. To learn more, call 281-626-7694 or book an appointment online with Progressive Women’s Health today. We also offer telehealth visits.