Our Chemical Messengers | Marla Ahlgrimm

Marla AhlgrimmIn the following brief blog, Marla Ahlgrimm answers questions about hormones and how they play a role in our mood.

Q: What are hormones?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Hormones are best thought of as chemical messengers. They are released by different glands and travel through the blood telling our brain and body how to feel, how to react, and how to grow.

Q: Are hormones responsible for moodiness during a woman’s menstrual cycle?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Absolutely. Women’s hormones are a fickle beast, and the majority of women of childbearing age experience fluctuating hormones at least once each month. Although PMS is not fully understood, rising, dropping, and shifting hormones are at least, in part, responsible for triggering moodiness about a week before a woman starts her period.

Q: Do medicines affect hormones?

Marla Ahlgrimm: They can, yes. Women that takes some types of medications may not produce enough or will produce too much of different hormones. Further, some oral contraceptives – particularly those that combine progesterone and estrogen – can result in symptoms of depression.

Q: Is there a male-equivalent of menopause?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, and no. Menopause is the natural process by which a woman’s fertility ceases. It is the result of changing hormones, much like puberty signals the beginning of fertility. Men sometimes do experience a condition known as andropause, which is a slow decline in testosterone. Testosterone, being the primary male sex hormone, is responsible for everything from bone mass and libido to the ability to achieve an erection.

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