Written by Dr. Filza Swalah, ND
Hormones, hormones, hormones… in a world filled with so much knowledge, understanding hormones still seems complicated and overwhelming. What are hormones? What do hormones do? What hormonal changes occur during a menstrual cycle? We all know hormones are important but what we don’t know – or only have a slight understanding of – is the role hormones play during the menstrual cycle and the impact of that in day-to-day life. For instance, why do you feel more bloated right before your period? Or why the sudden increase of energy and glowing skin right after your period? Both those questions have the same answer… it’s your hormones!
Hormones & The Menstrual Cycle
When it comes to understanding your hormones, it’s important to understand it in reference to the menstrual cycle, because the hormones will be different depending on what phase you are in.
This chart helps to understand which hormones are key players during different phases of the cycle:
The Follicular Phase – “the Egg” Phase
This phase of the cycle begins with the first day of menses, however, the true role of this cycle is to get the ovaries to produce an egg. At the beginning of the cycle, both female sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone – are low but at about Day 10, estrogen begins to rise.1Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is sent from the brain to the ovary, and tells the ovary to start creating follicles.2 At this time, one dominant follicle is selected, which will release the egg during ovulation.3 As the follicles begin to grow, Estrogen is released and is the dominant hormone during this phase of the cycle. Estrogen helps the growth of the uterine lining as well and is responsible for many actions in the body such as bone health, cognitive health and reducing cardiovascular disease in women.2
During this phase of the cycle, you may notice some changes like:
- Less oily skin as high amounts of estrogen can decrease sebum production3
- Increased sex drive 4
- Changes in cervical mucous – especially sticky, egg-white like mucous a few days before ovulation5
The best way to support your cycle during this stage is with Cyclesmart. Cyclesmart has all the right ingredients to help stabilize menstrual cycle irregularities. With ingredients like Vitex, zinc, DIM, rosemary extract, green tea extract and so much more, Cyclesmart helps support healthy estrogen metabolism and liver detoxification.6 The suggested use for adults is 2-3 capsules daily with food.
This phase of the cycle is short. This is when the egg that was prepared during the follicular phase is released and travels to the fallopian tube. There is a surge of Luteinizing Hormone which increases estrogen and testosterone, encouraging the egg to be released. The egg can be fertilized for only up to 12 hours after its release.1
During this phase of the cycle, you may not notice any changes. Some women do experience the slight pain of ovulation, which is called Mittelschmerz, and lasts a few hours.
The Luteal Phase – the “Building” Phase
This phase begins right after ovulation and goes up until the first day of menses (if pregnancy does not occur). The dominant hormone present during this phase is progesterone which is produced after the follicle is released. Progesterone plays an important role in the growth of the uterine lining in preparation for possible pregnancy.1 Although progesterone is dominant, is it important to notice that estrogen is also increasing during the luteal phase. Both progesterone and estrogen increase midway into this phase but slowly decrease, which initiates menses and return to the follicular phase.
During this phase of the cycle, you may notice some changes throughout the body:
- Increasing progesterone levels will create thick cervical mucous and increased body temperature1
- Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone initiates Premenstrual Symptoms like breast tenderness & pain.7
Hormones & Daily Life
Now that we have covered the hormones that are involved during a menstrual cycle, it’s time to discuss the hormones that are involved in daily life and are not cyclical.
Cortisol – the Stress Hormone
Cortisol is the hormone that is released from the adrenal glands during times of stress and need. Cortisol is a life-saving hormone and is responsible for the fight & flight response. Problems arise when the adrenal glands get overburdened with more demand than we can manage and constantly stimulate the adrenals to secrete hormones to help us cope. This can lead to excess cortisol in the body (overactive adrenals) or even worse, tired adrenals where we have trouble managing the stress response and they could become underactive.9
Luckily Adrenasmart has four synergistic non-glandular, adaptogenic herbs that works brilliantly to offer your body the much-needed support it desperately needs. Each capsule of Adrenasmart contains Rhodiola, Suma, Schisandra Berries and Sensoril® Ashwagandha. Adrenasmart is formulated to help relieve symptoms of mental fatigue related to stress and supports cognitive function, physical stamina, mental focus and helps to temporarily relieve symptoms of stress.10 Take 2 capsules with breakfast and dinner to give your body the much-needed support it needs to help us cope with the world of daily stressors!
The Thyroid Hormones
The thyroid is a regulatory gland (located in the lower third-part of your neck).11 It is small but powerful and is sensitive and responsive to other functions in the body and environment. Your thyroid is trying to keep your metabolism balanced as best as it can. When it is functioning well, you feel great. The thyroid produces hormones T4, and T3 along with calcitonin and others which all communicate with other organs and glands in the body.11 When these hormones are in the optimal range it is a sign that your thyroid is functioning well.
An easy and effective way of supporting your thyroid is with Thyrosmart.With just 2 capsules of Thyrosmart with breakfast, support optimal thyroid health function and maintain normal production of thyroid hormones. 12
Take care of your hormones with Smart Solutions!
Smart Solutions Product Partners:
- Merck Manual Consumer Version. Menstrual Cycle. Accessed June 30, 2021 at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/women-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-female-reproductive-system/menstrual-cycle.
- Le J, Thomas N, Gurvich C. (2020). Cognition, The Menstrual Cycle, and Premenstrual Disorders: A Review. Brain Sci,10(8): 198.
- Elsaie ML. (2016). Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatology, 9: 241-48.
- Roney JR, Simmons ZL. (2013). Hormonal predictors of sexual motivation in natural menstrual cycles. Horm Behav, 63(4): 636-45.
- Thijssen A, et al. ‘Fertility Awareness-Based Methods’ and subfertility: a systematic review. Facts Views Vis Obgyn,6(3): 113-23.
- Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on June 29th, 2021 at http://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80029413
- Roomruangwong C, et al. (2019). Lowered Plasma Steady-State Levels of Progesterone Combined with Declining Progesterone Levels During the Luteal Phase Predict Peri-Menstrual Syndrome and Its Major Subdomains. Front Psychol,10: 2246.
- Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on June 29th, 2021 at http://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80092867
- Thau L, Gandhi J, Sharma S. (2021). StatsPearls: Physiology, Cortisol. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing.
- Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on June 29th, 2021 at https://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80033271
- Grigorova M, Sherwin BB. (2012). Thyroid hormones and cognitive functioning in healthy, euthyroid women: a correlational study. Horm Behav, 61(4), 617-2222.
- Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on June 29th, 2021 at http://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence=80078180