Hormones are chemical messengers. They are produced in glands throughout our body, released by those glands, and circulate in various organs. They influence all sorts of different functions — such as bone growth, metabolism, and ovulation — that depend on the hormone released and the cells that act. For example, hormones released by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain stimulate your ovaries to grow and release an egg, leading to ovulation. Ovulation, then, causes us to make the hormone progesterone.
We have tens of hormones and millions of hormone receptors, which are like anchor ports to the outside of cells that allow hormones to enter and do their job. Estrogen is a surprising example of a hormone that does so much. We have estrogen receptors in our heart, bones and brain — not just our uterus. This is why estrogen can affect so much of our body at the same time, including our menstrual cycles as well as cognitive function and bone density and so many other functions. The same is true for cortisol, our thyroid hormones, and many others.
These hormonal systems are also interconnected. Your thyroid function affects your estrogen production, your estrogen levels affect your thyroid, your cortisol levels affect thyroid function, and your cortisol levels influence ovarian function. These systems are all communicating all the time. It’s like a phone game. When messages are communicated correctly, the functions that are supposed to be triggered by hormones are able to do their job smoothly. But as in a phone game, messages might not be transmitted correctly. Messages could not even be transmitted. Either there may be some message that is transmitted too loudly, or too many messages that happen immediately. If the messages are not transmitted correctly, what is supposed to happen at the other end is as static on the channel. Messages can be confusing. And so hormonal problems happen.