Hormones are substances that are produced by the body’s glands. Throughout the body, hormones perform a number of different functions, and they can control what happens in different bodily cells and organs. They travel throughout the body in the bloodstream.
Men and women share many of the same hormones that perform similar functions in both men and women. But there are also a number of distinctive hormones that are found only in women, or at least in much higher levels in women.
The primary hormones that are more important to women than men are the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are produced mainly by the ovaries, and they rise and fall at different points in the menstrual cycle, as well as when a women experiences menopause. Estrogen actually refers to three different hormones rather than just one. For example, estrone, or E1, rises in a woman after menopause. E2 is estradiol, and it is the main form of estrogen present throughout a woman’s reproductive years. And levels of estriol, or E3, increase throughout a woman’s pregnancy.
Other Female Hormones
There are other female hormones that play an important role in bodily functions unique to women, as well. Follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, for example, are both produced by the pituitary gland, and they play key roles in the menstrual cycle. For example, levels of follicle stimulating hormone rise at the time of a woman’s menstrual period. And luteinizing hormone levels increase as an egg is about to be released, or ovulation. Finally, when an egg is fertilized, a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin is released as a signal of the fertilization and oncoming pregnancy.
Drops in female hormone levels are responsible for many of the bodily changes that occur after menopause. For this reason, some women consider hormone therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause.
SOURCES: National Cancer Institute; Women’s Health Foundation; U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
New study suggests the therapy won't increase risk of early death
Study suggests that, given this way, short-term use of the hormone may help those who report symptoms
Early menstruation, more frequent periods seem to make sad times less likely, researchers suggest
Odds of abnormal menstrual bleeding jump 6 times after serious head injury, study says
Benefits of treatment don't outweigh the risks, U.S. task force reiterates
Women whose periods end early and those who never give birth seem at added risk, research suggests
British researchers zero in on genetic links between early puberty and increased cancer risk
New research suggests lung function can decline significantly
And traditional preventive treatments don't erase added danger, new study suggests
Study also ties hormonal patches, IUDs to greater antidepressant use, especially in teens
Rates down 16 percent in U.S., 8 percent in Canada, and 10 percent in Europe over a decade: study
Study finds they beat fresh embryos in polycystic ovary syndrome patients undergoing IVF
Expectant mothers or those trying to get pregnant should make sure they get enough of the nutrient, researchers say
Study sees big drop in levels of the female hormone in the days before menstruation
Timing of shifts, at puberty and menopause, suggest that estrogen is steering changes, researcher says
Patients having visual disturbances or taking estrogen face increased odds, researchers suggest
Researchers say hormonal changes and painkiller overuse may be to blame
Study might explain why men often seem harder hit by the virus
Findings should reassure women and their doctors, experts say
High levels of testosterone, estrogen in middle age linked to raised odds of benign tumors in uterus
Study suggests link for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, but can't prove cause-and-effect
Findings likely to disappoint many couples, researcher says
Women see greater increase in levels of this 'male' hormone in competitive situations
Case report details how ovarian hyperthecosis leads to balding, excess body hair
But the finding is considered preliminary and needs more study
Starting treatment around onset of menopause seems to lower threat to heart, study says
Even 'sham' acupuncture beat one frequently used medication
Hormonal fluctuations during menstrual cycle are to blame, study says
Researchers did see mood improvement in women on oral treatment
Risk of a type of colitis increased somewhat for current HRT users, study found
Elderly women will account for growing proportion of cases, study predicts
But other experts warn it's too soon to say the treatment is safe
Finding suggests need for better treatments for menopause-related symptoms, study author says
Overall increase is small, though, adding 1 cancer per 1,000 women treated
Women benefited from drinking about 4 cups daily, study suggests
Ongoing study shows they prevent pregnancy at least one year beyond their approved use
Disorder also associated with other menstrual problems and pelvic pain, study finds