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What are hormones and what do they do?



When we hear about hormones it's usually in a negative light, truth is the main job of hormones is to maintain a normal physiological balance throughout the body!

Hormones are important chemical messengers in the body that are part of, and released by the endocrine system. These messengers control crucial tasks of our major bodily functions, from emotions and mood, to whether we feel hungry / full and then complex processes like reproduction. When we understand our hormones, and how they can support us, we can take better control of our health!


Let's look a little closer at the Endocrine System and the Endocrine Glands. Ever heard of the thyroid, pituitary, parathyroid or adrenal glands? Well these, and other organs, are endocrine-releasing organs that function to produce and release hormones into the blood.

The best way to answer the question "what do hormones do?" is to take a look at some of our major hormones in our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone mainly secreted by the pineal gland in the brain.

Melatonin is our 'sleep hormone' that aids the body to relax and lower body temperature to help with restful sleep. It keeps the body's circadian rhythm in balance, which is our internal 24-hour 'clock' – our sleep and wake processes. The body makes more melatonin when it is dark. 

Progesterone is major hormone to aid in fertility and menstruation. It helps produce ovulation, prepare the endometrium (lining of the uterus) for a potential pregnancy, or stimulates menstruation if no pregnancy. Low levels of progesterone can be a cause of abnormal menstrual cycles and difficulty in conceiving.

Estrogen is the most commonly known of all hormones. It is produced in the ovaries (in women) and is the main female sex hormone for puberty, preparing the body and uterus for pregnancy, regulating the menstrual cycle, and the cause of menopausal symptoms due to level changes. Levels of estrogen can affect hair, nails and even the tone of your skin!

There are many more including insulin, testosterone, adrenaline and even Vitamin D (it is actually a hormone produced by the kidneys)! When hormones are balanced, the body functions well, but any small adjustments can cause a cascade of short and long-term health concerns.

If you have concerns about any of your hormones The Good Health Room would love to help!

Contact Shona at The Good Health Room for a consultation

Fundamentals of Applied Pathophysiology; An essential guide for nursing and healthcare students (2nd Ed)


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