Hormones fire off responses to various cursors in different parts of the brain and pituitary gland, which impact mood, cognition, and emotions. This explains why you may often feel depressed, overly emotional or extremely aggravated prior to the start of your period (termed PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome).
In fact, hormones can even directly impact your memory and cognition if an imbalance exists within your endocrine system.
Let’s dive into exactly how hormones work and just how they get around to influencing your mind and manners.
Estrogen and progesterone, produced in the ovaries, are the primary hormones functioning within the female reproductive system. Estrogen’s roles include the stimulation of egg growth, signaling the tissue to develop into sexual maturation, and maintaining mucosal levels within the uterus. Progesterone primarily deals with initial egg implantation and the proper support of a developing pregnancy.
Aside from these functions, these hormones also directly interact with the chemicals in your brain responsible for happiness. The hormone levels within our bodies fluctuate throughout the month, varying from woman to woman depending on where she is at in her cycle. A drastic increase or decrease of these hormones in the system, affect regular bodily and mental functions. Lower levels of these hormones in the system can bring about symptoms such as depression and mood swings.
Similarly, women taking hormonal contraceptives like the birth control pill may notice symptoms of suicidal thoughts or heightened irritability. Puberty and pregnancy are two stages in a woman’s life where the influence of hormones is especially apparent. During adolescence, this is signified by “growing pains”, strong emotional reactions, and a tendency for rash decision-making. At the same time, the hormones go to work signaling tissue, muscles, and organs to develop female sexual traits like breasts, hips, and body hair.
‘Pregnancy brain’, an all too common phenomena experienced by a large percentage of women characterized by foggy memory and bouts of forgetfulness, is yet just another example of hormones at work in your mind. With the aid of your hormones combined with low physical activity and irregular sleeping patterns, forgetfulness, irrationality, irritability and emotional overload become more frequent during pregnancy.
Our hormones play a vital role in controlling brain-to-body transmissions as a way to stimulate activity within the reproductive system and maintaining the longevity of the system as a whole.
But along with that comes a mix of emotions and symptoms that can be inconvenient and not always pleasant. Though essentially out of control, methods like controlled breathing, refocused energies, meditation, and even a good cup of tea are all great coping mechanism to ease these monthly transitions. For women with hormonal imbalances, hormonal therapy can also be a viable option to explore and help with countering various symptoms.