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Hormones and How They Work Within the Human Body


A while ago I was asked what I thought about steroids. And body building. I know absolutely nothing about body building and discovered I know the same about steroids. So I decided to learn something in case I was ever asked that question again. Little did I know what would follow. As I write health articles, mainly about Meniere's disease, I try to use subjects or topics that interest both the reader and me. I didn’t appear to have much of an interest as I promptly forgot to learn anything about steroids, but as you know, it’s really been in the news. And each time I heard more, I realized I had no idea what anyone was talking about. (This sounds like the true confessions of a nurse, doesn’t it?)  Until I started to look for definitions of a steroid, I really couldn’t figure out how it fit into my knowledge of physiology and anatomy. I had taught some basics of the Endocrine system, but this didn’t seem to fit. Then “the penny dropped”! I figured out it was part of the endocrine system, but as so often happens, the focus is on a very specific outcome.


That led me to look at all the hormones, of which steroids are but one classification. The next struggle I had was to decide if I wanted to do some in-depth research into steroids or would it be more helpful for a health article, to give an overview of all hormones. And that’s what I decided to do. I felt some insight about hormones would help people understand their bodies more clearly. And as hormones are essential to your wellbeing, the more you know, the better off you are. Eventually I will show how steroids relate to your body, and I will include a few links to sites that I found very helpful and interesting. As I read information on these sites, it amazed me how people would take one idea and transform it into something greater than what it was meant to do. By that I mean, someone discovered anabolic steroids, found they enhanced a part of the body, and then decided to use more of it. I shudder when I hear people “drugging” up their bodies. We know so much now about chemical effects on it. So why would a person want to ruin their liver or other parts of their body? It’s beyond me.  I hear the word steroid and I think cataract. Scary stuff!


So let’s get on with hormones. Nine in fact. And any of them, when they are out of balance, can cause all sorts of problems. Therefore each creates a specialty area for the medical community. Entire careers are built around this knowledge and subsequent treatment methods.


In this article we are going to see what each hormone is and how it relates to your everyday living. You will learn their “area of responsibility” and what happens to you when there is an imbalance. The easiest way to create an orderly discussion is to start at the top of your head and work “southward”. We’ll start with your pineal gland; go to the pituitary, then the thyroid and parathyroid glands, the thymus and adrenal glands, the pancreas, and lastly the reproductive glands, your gonads. I will include definitions as we go along. I won’t go into much detail about health (or unhealthy) conditions. Suffice to say they are all degenerative conditions. And if you recall the American Medical Association’s recommendations on the use of nutritional supplements, you may also recall that these conditions might well be reversible. That would require some further research and would depend on other things, but it could well be possible. You have to know where to look.


Just as your skin is part of the integumentary system and your heart is part of the cardiovascular system, your hormones are part of the endocrine system. This system has two parts: 1) glands and organs and 2) the hormones that are created and secreted by them. The function of the hormones, which is a chemical, is to regulate your body.  It all sounds so simple, yet it’s a vastly complex scenario. However each gland is assigned a job and it does it automatically. It “pulls out” of the blood stream all the ingredients it requires to manufacturers the appropriate hormone, and then releases it back into the blood stream for delivery to the “targeted area”. Simple, very practical, effective, and it works. But you KNOW that there is so much more to this process! This is a complete oversimplification, but in essence, that is what happens.


Before I go any further, I need to make sure you don’t use this information for anything more than just learning a little more about your hormones. Please don’t start diagnosing or treating yourself. These are chemicals and when they are imbalanced, they will affect all of your body. Your body craves balance. This information is written to help you learn about your body, but just for interest: not to do more. It will help you to understand your body and its interactions, and will help you to ask better questions, should you need medical support.


You will quickly recognize some of the major health conditions (possibly even Meniere's disease) as you read about these hormones. The presence of these conditions is all to do with a lack of balance or chemical interactions. I am sure that this little knowledge and your interest will not make you an expert. If you have any concerns, please contact your primary care health care professional. However, as endocrinology is a specialty with sub-specialties, you will most likely be sent to a clinical specialist. I’m sure you have heard that many health care students in their medical studies have “contracted” all sorts of diseases. What they studied, they had. You might feel the same. You probably do not anything remotely similar. So don’t imagine the worst. Just read for interest.


Let’s go back to the blood stream and hormones being transported to their target area. I need to digress once more here. I deal so very frequently with blood pressure situations: high, low, or normal. I want to make you aware how important normal blood pressure is. Blood distributes everything throughout your body and if the pressure is too high or too low, it changes when the “items” reach their destination. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80


Your blood pressure will most likely never be the 120/80 reading. Common sense dictates that sometimes it changes. AND it does that all day long. That is normal too. There is much you can do to deal with high blood pressure (hypertension) before you need to resort to drugs which are more chemicals being distributed throughout your body. Another big problem I see, and this leads me back to the hormone issue, is that many people have low blood pressure. Low pressure will slow down the distribution of “items” in the blood stream. And it will also make the blood more sluggish. Two of the major components of blood are oxygen and nutrients. And a low blood pressure will not deliver these adequately. That might result in light headedness, fatigue, or dizziness. If your blood pressure is low, would it not follow that all your hormones might not be delivered in a timely fashion? Again just think about these issues.

Now Let’s Cover The Actual Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers. Most go directly into your bloodstream. Their job is to regulate your body’s activities and its chemistry: hence the messenger role term. It is important to remember that all of these hormones work in unison and interact. Nothing in your body works in isolation. I often tell people that your blood doesn’t just go to one area: it connects to every cell in your body, all day and all night long.

The major glands that make up the human endocrine system are the pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, adrenals, and the ones of lesser importance include the pineal body, and the reproductive glands (gonads), which include the ovaries and testes. There are also some digestive ones, but they pertain to the digestive system. Here are some sites to give you more detailed information.


Barron’s Anatomy And Physiology Made Easy
For our information to flow a little more naturally, I will start at the head and work to the reproductive glands.


The Pineal gland is a small gland located in the middle of the brain. Its function is to secrete melatonin, the hormone that regulates your wake-sleep cycle. As it controls this sleep pattern, any change it its quantity might well change the sleep pattern. But do remember that the body is very good at adjusting its needs. It is also thought to delay sexual maturity until the body is ready for reproduction. Little is known about the actual activities of melatonin. For a while, everyone seemed to be using it, but I would use it very cautiously. A healthy body should produce adequate amounts.
The Pituitary gland is called the master gland. It is found at the base of the brain, near another important gland, the hypothalamus. 
It plays a central role in regulating the secretions from many other hormone-secreting glands of the body. It is very small (pea-size) in relation to some structures of equal importance, i.e. the heart. It influences so many areas of the body! Directly and indirectly it controls your growth, urine production, blood chemistry and reproductive activities.  It also stimulates the growth of bone and other body tissues. It plays a role in the body's handling of nutrients and mineral in electrolyte balance. It stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones and it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce other hormones. It triggers the contractions of the uterus that occur during labor and activates milk production at birth. You can see how it affects so many areas of your body.


An interesting point to note is that emotions and seasonal changes have quite an effect on producing these hormones. HGH (human growth hormone), TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone: thyrotropin) and ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone: corticotrophin) are the most well known of the pituitary hormones.


They all have to do with growth, and you can see an over-abundance or a lack would certainly affect growth. Two other important hormones are ADH (anti-diuretic) and oxytocin.  The first is responsible for affecting blood pressure. The second is very important for muscle control in the uterus and milk production at birth. Any changes in the production of these hormones would affect your growth. You could have dwarfism or you could be really tall. Your urine production could be altered. This could well affect your blood pressure. You might be retaining fluids and get puffy ankles. Your kidneys could be excreting elements it should keep. Normally a lot of the toxins leave your body through your kidneys. So you need to have them functioning properly. The pituitary hormones responsibilities are very widespread indeed!  

The hypothalamus is located in the lower part of the central of the brain, just above the pituitary gland. It is the primary link between the endocrine (hormones) system and the nervous system. This makes it a very important hormone. It activates and controls the part of the nervous system that in turn controls involuntary body functions, the hormonal system, regulating sleep and appetite and body temperature and others body processes. Remember that it isn’t the gland that does this work: it’s the hormone (messenger). This is done by producing chemicals that either stimulate or suppress hormone secretions from the pituitary. (It seems to regulate the regulator.) You can appreciate if this hormone is out of balance, the messages would be much distorted. For example, getting messages not to eat as much or to eat more, could result in unhealthy body weights. Or you would be sleeping too little or too much. Or you could get incorrect messages that your body temperature is too hot or too cold when in fact it is just comfortable.
The thyroid is situated in the front of your neck and cushions the parathyroid glands. Feel your way down your throat (trachea), and come to the space just above the V. stay on the “rings” and you will feel the thyroid gland. If it’s in good working order (and that’s what you want,) you would need to guess at the exact location. It is soft and blends into the throat area. The thyroid is responsible for growth hormones (can you see how there is much cross-over in hormonal activities?)  Not only do these control growth of your body, but also the growth of your cells. Two important hormones are secreted by the thyroid gland: thyroxine and thyrocalcitonin. They are common in our medical language now. Thyroxine helps to regulate the metabolic rate of all body cells. This is the rate at which cells burn fuels from food to produce energy.  Metabolism is the physical and chemical processes and reactions happening in your body. It is the generation of heat and energy by your cells. Energy production is important as it relates to the ability of your cells to use oxygen. And you know that oxygen is essential for life. Thyrocalcitonin helps regulate the calcium (and phosphorous) levels, mainly in the bones of your body. (This has to do with balance of the electrolyte system in your body.)

Here is a very important point. As the level of thyroid hormones increases in the bloodstream, so does the speed at which chemical reactions occur in the body. Can you see how relatively easy it would be to test for abnormal thyroid conditions? A decrease in thyroid hormone production can result in decreased energy (lethargy), slow heart rate, dry skin, weight gain, constipation, and feeling cold all the time. You can feel this sluggish metabolism. This condition is called hypothyroidism. Remember that a slow pulse reflects a slow heart rate and that can translate into too little or inadequate amounts of red blood cells carrying oxygen and other life-sustaining elements throughout your body. But if you have too much thyroid hormone being secreted, it creates the opposite result. Too much thyroid hormone may result in weight loss, nervousness, tremors, excessive sweating, increased heart rate and blood pressure, protruding eyes, and a swelling in the neck, a very noticeable Adam’s apple (goiter). This condition is called Hyperthyroidism. If you think this through, you would understand that your entire body functions would be speeded up, using moiré fuel that normal.

Thyroid hormones also play a key role in bone growth and the development of the brain and nervous system in children. The production and release of thyroid hormones is controlled by thyrotropin which is secreted by the pituitary gland, as opposed to the thyroid gland.  Can you see how interrelated your body’s workings are? These messengers constantly work as a team to rebalance the chemicals in all of your body.
Parathyroid glands are like four little buttons attached to the front of the thyroid gland. These function together and are called the parathyroids. They release the parathormone hormone, which, with the help of thyrocalcitonin (from the thyroid gland) regulates the level of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. This has to do with electrolyte balance. This system is essential for the chemical functioning of your body. Know that your body craves balance. This is the system that maintains it and this is called homeostasis.

Two common problems in your body that can create this imbalance are too much salt and too little potassium. Too much salt causes fluid to be retained in your body, most often in your legs, and is identified as swelling. It can also cause fluids to be retained in your lungs, causing respiratory “distress”.  This imbalance is often corrected by drawing off the fluid. However, this might then cause a depletion of potassium that goes along with the salt (sodium). A low potassium level can lead to slow heart rates, weakness, and lack of motivation. It may also cause arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) because of chemical imbalances that may be caused in the heart’s electrical system.

Thymus: the thymus is a gland needed early in life for normal immune development and function. The thymus gland secretes hormones called “humoral factors”. These hormones help to develop the lymphatic system. This is the system throughout your body that helps it to reach a mature immune response in cells to protect them from invading bodies, like bacteria, viruses and other intruders. The thymus hormone, thymosin, is responsible for the growth and development of the lymphocytes, which are becoming more researched and known to be important.


This hormone is directly related to your body’s ability to withstand many “intruders”. I have always questioned the need for tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies. I saw them as a protective mechanism of the body. Research is now encouraging the end to this practice. I digress, but it makes more sense to me to keep your body parts inside of you and as healthy as you can make them. Somehow cleaning them out and restoring their functions makes more sense to me now more than ever. If you do any research on the thymus gland, you will very quickly be overwhelmed with information on the deficiency to the immune system and its possible problems. We are frequently given “immunosuppressant drugs. Why would someone want to suppress the body’s natural response to anything unwanted? Would it not be wiser to rebuild it? And you know now that as the American Medical Association says, it is possible. Please research this closely if you feel a need.  Consider strengthening your body naturally.


Adrenals: what I want of discuss next is an OVERVIEW. Please do NOT use this for a school project or to make any final decisions. These hormones are very complex. I will try and simplify this topic, but that's all it will be: an oversimplification of a very important part of our body. I thought it would be interesting to share my experiences in doing research for this particular part. I used four medical texts (here in my office) and five online medical research sites. No two resources gave the identical information! I was surprised to come across to this lack of definite descriptions. I say this so you will not use this as the final answer.  There doesn’t seem to be one. Sites used such terms as “apparently” and “it seems”. That told me this was still subject to interpretation. So I will try to share what I learned.


Your adrenals are very important in your life. You have two. One lies on the top of each kidney. If you don’t know where your kidneys are, run your hand to the bottom of your ribs at your back. Then run your hand up from the hip on the same side: in between lie your kidneys. You have to use your imagination a bit, but if you were having kidney surgery, you would be placed on your side and a little bar would be elevated under this area to “expose” that portion of the kidney.
Each adrenal gland has two distinctive parts: the cortex and the medulla. I will digress here for a moment to show how important medical terminology is and how it can pinpoint a location. The word cortex will be adjusted to “corti” or “cortico” or “cortical”. They all give a hint that this word is somehow related to the outer part of something: and in this case the adrenals. It immediately gives the health professional some insight and knowledge of what “thread” or subject to look for next. Medical terminology says a lot in a few words!


Each produces different hormones and each has a different function. (Some medical texts divide this into three parts, but that's too complex for our needs.)  Together both parts produce hormones such as the precursors to male & female sex hormones, glucocorticoid hormones, and mineralocorticoid hormones and chemicals such as adrenalin and dopamine. Situations where the glands produce either too many or too few hormones than required by your body, is where you can run into health problems.

You need to remember that the pituitary and reproductive glands are also very closely involved along with the adrenal hormones. A precursor is an element required for the manufacture of the main “item”.

These hormones influence or regulate many functions such as salt, potassium and water balance in the body (electrolyte concentration). Each one controls part of the body's response to stress, metabolism, your immune system, and sexual reproductive functions. These hormones help the body control blood sugar, and increase the burning of protein and fat. They respond to stressors like fever, major illness, and injury. They control blood volume and help to regulate blood pressure by acting on the kidneys to help them hold onto enough sodium and water.  They support the body's immune system.

Chemically, all the cortical hormones are steroids. Steroids are hormones that affect the development and growth of sex organs. Testosterone (male) and estrogen (female) are examples of such steroids, i.e. hormones. Incidentally, synthetic steroids are useful for cancer treatments, but they might have undesirable side-effects. When they are used for this purpose their function then is to alter the metabolism of the cancer cell growth. It would also have an effect on the regular cells as well.

Let's look at the hormones produced by the inner area of the adrenal gland (medulla). This area produces epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. They increase your heart rate, open your airway to improve oxygen intake, and increase the blood flow to your muscles, when you are scared, excited, or under stress. In effect, epinephrine increases blood pressure and heart rate when the body experiences stress.  Norepinephrine also is made by the adrenal medulla, but this hormone is more related to maintaining normal activities as opposed to emergency reactions. But too much norepinephrine can cause high blood pressure. 

If the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, the cause could be due to a problem in another gland. For instance, the hypothalamus or pituitary glands could fail to produce hormones that control the adrenal glands. Or a problem inside the adrenal gland could be caused by some kind of disease or infection in or around it. As mentioned before, major problems will occur when the adrenal glands produce too many or too few hormones. A lack of hormones from the adrenal medulla (the inner part) produces no significant effects. On the other hand, an increase amount, usually from a tumor, causes prolonged or continual nerve responses. It would be like always being in a fight/flight readiness: tense and anxious.

There are two important disorders caused by problems with the adrenal cortex (outer area): Cushing's syndrome and Addison's Disease.

Cushing's syndrome is a disease diagnosed by increased production of cortisol or by excessive use of cortisol. If you recall, the role of the pituitary gland (in the brain) is to regulate glands and other functions. In this case, it is allowing excessive secreting of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (growth). This hormone, normally released during stressful situations, controls the body's use of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.  When ACTH is secreted by the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands release cortisol. Now you have too much cortisol. This can lead to all sorts of complications such as hypertension, diabetes, infections, kidney stones, etc. They all relate to the areas that they control with their hormone secretion.

Addison's disease is a hormone deficiency caused by damage to the outer layer of the adrenal gland (adrenal cortex). The problem in this situation is that if a person gets into a stressful situation, they have few normal resources available to provide fight/ flight responses. So stress has to be kept to a minimum. And how easy is that to do?
Pancreas: again I want to make sure this information is used only for interest. I'll try to make this simple although it is enormously complex. The pancreas and its elements are very complicated.  All I am doing here is creating an overview. Because of the very actions of these hormones, you must not try to diagnose or treat yourself. However you have a chance to understand the reason behind diabetes and you can choose to do something about it. Be aware of the close spelling of glycogen, glucose and glucagon. Glucose is a "simple" sugar. Glycogen is another sugar. (It is derived from glucose.) Glucagon is a hormone. The pancreas is a large longish gland that sits a little behind your stomach, but also around the top of it. The Islets of Langerhans produce two hormones: insulin and glucagon. They are needed to metabolize glycogen into glucose within the body to provide fuel for life. While the pancreas is also part of this hormone-secreting system, it is also associated with the digestive system because it also produces and secretes digestive enzymes.

Your body needs fuel to run. This process is called metabolism.  Without it you cannot live. You eat an egg with some toast, but your body cannot use the egg and toast in that form. So it needs to be transformed into something that can be transported by your blood stream to each and every cell in your body. (You can't have an egg on a piece of toast flowing through your bloodstream.)

That egg and toast are made up of many "ingredients:  fats, carbohydrates, proteins (macronutrients) plus antioxidants, minerals etc. (micronutrients). In order for these to be changed into usable fuel, the pancreas gets an automatic message to release a hormone called insulin. The insulin converts this meal into a good "sugar" and you now have fuel that flows through your bloodstream to give you energy for your activities, including all those activities your body does that you don’t know about. Extra sugar (glycogen) that is not “matched” with insulin will now be stored in your liver or in your muscles. (The extra donut and fries.)

But imagine you feel hungry. If you don't have any food to give it, it means your the body is short of fuel. The pancreas then sends a message via glucagon to the liver to release some glycogen. This glycogen is then converted into glucose which is now your fuel. If you continue to "borrow" from your storage supply, its load will eventually be depleted.  Your muscles, another source of glycogen, will then be depleted. They will become emaciated. If you don't continue to fuel your body (starvation), you will eventually die. So the roles of insulin and glucagon are to be messengers in keeping your fuel supply even. Glucagon is the opposite hormone of insulin. It essentially takes stored fat and changes it into sugar as means of increasing blood sugar levels (fuel).

As long as you provide good food, the hormones will work together to maintain a steady level of glucose, or sugar, in the blood and to keep the body supplied with fuel to produce and maintain stores of energy. Amazing findings are being revealed about what takes place in our bodies when we eat what is now referred to as a high glycemic meal. I urge you to study this reseouce and use it to keep your body healthy.

The medical term for high blood sugar is called hyperglycemia (too much sugar in the blood). Too little sugar in the blood is called hypoglycemia. (too little) There are many people who have hypoglycemia and need to carry some form of digestible food with them at all times. Hypoglycemia can affect your body more quickly. It can be life threatening.  Hyperglycemia shows up much more slowly. It builds up in your body over time.

Your body is always trying to rebalance itself. In order to handle an extra "sugar" load, it needs to produce more insulin. There are two (amongst many) challenges here. One involves the continual production of the body's adequate supply of insulin. At some point it can't do it any longer. Or the production is very slow and you end up with excess sugar in the blood stream. That leads to the next problem. Research is now showing that this excess is causing oxidative stress and irritation of the blood vessel walls. That is not healthy. Insulin lowers blood sugar. It is essentially your "storage hormone" as it drives the extra sugar into the cell to be utilized or stored as fat. It is this storage load that the glucagon will use when your blood sugar is too low.

If your blood glucose levels rise for a prolonged period of time, kidney failure, blindness, and hardening of the arteries can result. This is hyperglycemia. If one’s blood sugar drops to very low levels, coma, seizure, or even death may occur. Therefore, our bodies have this very sophisticated hormonal system that is continuously working to maintain blood sugar levels between 80 mg/dL and 180 mg/dL.  


Problem conditions for sugar disorders: Diabetes is the major disorder of the pancreas. It represents an imbalance of blood sugar levels. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (Type 1) or the body is resistant to the insulin in the blood (Type 2). Without enough insulin to keep glucose (fuel) moving through the metabolic process, the blood glucose level rises too high. In Type 1 diabetes, a patient must take insulin shots. Their pancreas is not producing insulin or in such small amounts, that it doesn't really have any affect. In Type 2 diabetes, a patient may not necessarily need insulin and can sometimes control blood sugar levels with exercise, diet and other medications. This condition would have developed over time and insulin production may be chronically short. In order not to take any drugs, the person would be advised to cut back on normal eating habits and change to foods low in sugar. A word of warning. Before you buy any artificial sweeteners, please do research on them. They can be “problematic”.  We have advertising that leads us to believe they are healthy, but they are more chemicals. 

Sometimes a condition called hyperinsulinemia (HI) is caused by too much insulin and leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms of low blood sugar include anxiety, sweating, increased heart rate, weakness, hunger, and light-headedness. Low blood sugar stimulates release of epinephrine, glucagon and growth hormone, which help to return the blood sugar to normal. Although the endocrine glands are the body's main hormone producers, some non-endocrine organs - such as the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, thymus, skin, and placenta - also produce and release hormones. Again we see the interactions of all body systems and the effect of one part of your body can have on a part "far removed", as in the pituitary gland influencing the pancreas near the stomach.
Please realize that this information on the pancreas is only an overview and should be researched much further. 

Reproductive Hormones
The hormones, that are responsible for reproduction, come from two sets of glands and as a group they are called the gonads. In the female they are the ovaries and in the male they are testes.  Let's look at them separately.

Reproductive hormones: Female
The ovaries are located in the "pelvic cavity". That is the space "below" your abdomen. We think all parts of our body "below the belt" as being contained in one large space in our abdomen. In fact, we have several spaces (cavities) in there and the lowest one is the pelvic cavity. It holds the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The uterus can be described as a thick-walled hollow vase-shaped structure. The lower end of the uterus is called the vagina and it ends with the cervix. The main part of the uterus is a wider structure. And attached at the top end of both sides is a long thin tube called the fallopian tube, which ends with an ovary. This is the source of the hormones: estrogen and progesterone. If you can imagine looking directly at the face of a long-horned bull, it would give you an idea of what I am trying to convey. :)
These steroid hormones contribute to the development and function of the female reproductive organs and sex characteristics. They are responsible for several functions throughout the life of a female. And as with other hormonal action, the pituitary gland and others glands will also contribute hormones. The ovaries secrete two hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is involved in the development of female sexual features such as breast growth, the accumulation of body fat around the hips and thighs, and the growth spurt that occurs during puberty. It also contributes to the maturing of reproductive organs such as the uterus and vagina, making them ready for pregnancy. The other hormones: progesterone causes the uterine lining to thicken in preparation for pregnancy. Together, progesterone and estrogens are responsible for the changes that occur in the uterus during the female menstrual cycle.

The most common female hormonal change is caused by the start of menopause. This is not a disease or a negative condition. This is part of the normal aging process. (The ovaries, if diseased, can also be removed surgically: thus menopause will begin immediately). If the ovaries are no longer present, there is no other way for the body to produce these hormones. Thus all the related functions of a pregnancy cannot happen. The message to get the body ready for pregnancy will not be sent. Some side effects of the lack or absence of the estrogen hormone are hot flashes, thinning vaginal tissue, lack of menstrual periods, mood changes and bone loss (osteoporosis). One not too uncommon condition to these hormones is a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  

Reproductive hormones: Male
The male sex gland is the testis. There are two testes and each is located in the scrotum, which is a small bulb-like structure outside the lower abdomen. These glands are the main source of sex hormones called testosterone but you will recall the pituitary and other glands (adrenals) also send chemical messengers to enhance the these activities. In this instance, working with hormones from the pituitary gland, testosterone is also involved in the production of sperm by the testes. The hormones that are secreted are called androgens. They regulate body changes associated with sexual development, including enlargement of the penis, the growth spurt that occurs during puberty, and the appearance of other male secondary sex characteristics such as deepening of the voice, growth of facial and pubic hair, and the increase in muscle growth and strength.
Any change in the production of the hormone, androgen, will result in fairly obvious changes. A lack of androgens would result in less masculine characteristics or behaviour. And increase of androgens would enhance these characteristics. It is relatively easy to understand that the undesirable "steroid" notoriety is based on people taking these products to enhance their masculinity. But this practice seems to be done because the person feels inadequate abut their appearance or strength. Thus they have to support their negative self image by taking synthetic male hormones (steroids).
What is a little harder to understand is the lack of fear about the side effects of this practice. Here are some possible side effects in using synthetic steroids. They include changes in appearance (acne or increased facial hair), development of a round or moon-shaped face, thin, fragile skin that bruises easily, or changes of body fat to the trunk. You might also experience mood changes, personality changes, irritability, agitation, or depression. Other possible side effects include increased appetite and weight gain, poor wound healing, headache, glaucoma, irregular menstrual periods in women, peptic ulcer, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, steroid-induced diabetes, and osteonecrosis (damage to the hip joint that leads to severe arthritis). This is obviously a very serous undertaking and should not be done without a lot of medical support and recommendations.
Steroids and steroid abuse,
“There are several types of steroid (sex) hormones. Anabolic steroids are hormone-like substances related to testosterone, the major male sex hormone. Anabolic steroid hormones are different from the steroids produced by the adrenal glands that are similar to "cortisone" and are often prescribed to treat inflammation, asthma and rashes. The abuse of anabolic steroid hormones among young people has been rising over the past several years.” “Unfortunately, we still don't know how great the problem is throughout all of society, and don't know what the effects steroid abuse ultimately will be.”  The Hormone Foundation.
Steroids were very useful and practical when administered by qualified medical practitioners, but this has now turned into a cultural pastime. Here are two very helpful and easy to understand sites to learn more. If you look at the psychological changes and the health risks, you wonder why anyone takes these willingly. Psychological symptoms include: Mood swings, Sleep disruption,Aggressive behavior, Extreme irritability, Delusions, Impaired judgment because of feelings that nothing can hurt you, Paranoid jealousy, Euphoria (exaggerated feeling of well being), Depression (after stopping steroids),Lack of sexual drive (after stopping steroids)


Conclusion: I hope this has been an interesting overview into the actions of your hormones. They, like the rest of your body, require tender loving care and respect. Now you can appreciate that if there is a problem with inappropriate or useless nutrients (empty calories) coming into your body, this would have a major effect on your health. Remember that the only way your body gets any energy, is through nutrition/foods. We don’t often think in terms of what we feed it. We simply expect it to run all the time, in good health. But here you can see if you don’t feed it proper “usable” foods, it simply can’t get the fuel it needs. And then the vicious cycle starts. Without nutrients in your bloodstream, you are not feeding each individual cell of your entire body. Result? Now you get fatigue and a slowing down of all your systems. This is only a brief overview and it certainly is not complete. If this hormone interests you please follow up with a lot of research. The above links are very helpful. May I remind you not to use this information for anything other than to recognize your body’s importance in your life?


By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.



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