Understanding how hormones fluctuate during the menstrual cycle provides a range of information to help women improve their overall health during this period. Every woman can expect to experience up to 480 monthly fluctuations in female hormones throughout her menstrual cycle. So how can women gain insight into the effects these fluctuating hormones have on their health and well-being throughout their lives, or whether their hormones are fluctuating the way they should?
This article provides information about the effects of hormone variations on women’s well-being during the menstrual cycle. In addition, there are some solutions for women who want to adapt to their hormones. These recommendations are about improving and optimizing overall health and exercise performance, navigating perimenopause or helping manage conditions linked to female hormones such as fertility issues, PCOS or PMS.
Most women experience a menstrual cycle for at least 30 years of their lives. During each menstrual cycle, female hormone levels rise and fall significantly in a complex network of internal feedback mechanisms that regulate the release of the egg from the ovaries. Menstruation (periods) marks the beginning of each menstrual cycle and continues from early puberty to menopause in women, when their menstrual period stops. The average age of the first menstrual period (also known as menarche) is about 12 years old. Menarche can occur a few years before or after the average age, but usually not beyond the age of 16.
Apart from pregnancy, women will continue to have regular menstruation throughout their adult life until they enter the early stages of menopause, known as perimenopause. During perimenopause, normal hormone fluctuations begin to change as the ovaries become less sensitive, and perimenopause ends with menopause where a woman has not had a period for more than 12 months. The average age of menopause is 51 years old, but although menopause does not usually occur before the age of forty-five, there may be several years of variation on either side of it.
How long is the menstrual cycle, how long does it take?
On average, a menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but the length range tends to be up to 24 to 35 days, with the female calendar having at least 9 menstrual periods per year. And the menstrual cycle is the regular cycle of changing hormones in women and consists of 2 phases, follicular phase and luteal phase. The beginning of a menstrual cycle, day 1, is the first day of menstrual bleeding. From day 1 until ovulation (roughly on the 14th day of the cycle) it is called the follicular phase.
In this first phase of the menstrual cycle, a follicle in the ovary begins to develop to release an egg from the ovary at ovulation. This produces estrogen (its most active form, estradiol), which is the predominant hormone in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. The time from ovulation to the beginning of the menstrual period is the luteal phase. In this second phase of the menstrual cycle, the follicle remnants from which the egg is released form the corpus luteum in the ovary. The corpus luteum produces the predominant hormone progesterone in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Menstrual Cycle Hormones
There are four main hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. These hormones;
Ovarian response hormones,
Two control hormones with estrogen and progesterone,
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
Luteinizing hormone (LH)
The brain is the control center for the timing of menstrual cycles and includes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These secrete the control hormones FSH and LH in a carefully timed manner throughout the menstrual cycle. These control hormones act on the ovary to induce the secretion of the essential ovarian response hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Hormone Fluctuations During the Menstrual Cycle
While all hormones are in a dynamic state, the fluctuations of female hormones throughout a menstrual cycle are the most complex and complex of all hormone networks. During each menstrual cycle, female hormones differ in a characteristic pattern shown in the menstrual cycle graph below.
How Do Female Hormones Affect Your Health?
Each woman’s personal and individual hormone fluctuations during a menstrual cycle shape their unique experience of physical and mental health. For example, changes in mood, sleep patterns, increased fatigue, hunger drive, or other symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. This is because there are receptors in the brain and other parts of the body that are affected by these hormonal variations and cause a number of physical and mental changes that can affect a woman’s quality of life.
This is especially true for the response hormones, estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries. These hormones have wide-ranging effects on the female reproductive system, nervous system, musculoskeletal system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, immune system and metabolism. Each stage of the menstrual cycle has a dominant hormone that will have an impact on a woman’s physical and mental health. For example, estrogen is the dominant ovarian response hormone in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, whereas progesterone is the predominant ovarian response hormone in the luteal phase. Higher progesterone levels at this stage cause an increase in metabolism, so it’s not normal to experience an increase in hunger impulses.
In such a complex system, the length of cycles, the timing of ovulation, and the precise levels of each hormone vary from one woman to the next. And to make things more complicated, a woman can expect to experience changes in all these variables from one cycle to the next.
Hormone Map: Unique Personification in Hormones
The current practice of measuring female hormones is usually to take a single blood sample on the third day of the menstrual cycle when the hormones are least active. This approach only gives a single daily view of a woman’s hormones, and this can make it very difficult to draw any firm conclusions given the high level of variability throughout a cycle.
Considering that hormones have such a profound effect on women’s lives, it is believed that there is more to be done on them. Studying general population averages and a single snapshot does not give women meaningful information about their menstrual cycles and hormone health. What is much more informative is that a woman knows her own unique hormone variation during a full menstrual cycle. Associating this information with how you felt during that cycle will give women strong insights by giving them the answers they need.
Using a combination of blood analysis, artificial intelligence, and clinical expertise, this is exactly what Female Hormone Mapping does, a groundbreaking product for women. Based on just 2 finger prick blood tests performed on days 14 and 21 of a person’s menstrual cycle, they can mathematically model their own personal hormone profile for each of the four key female hormones for each day of their menstrual cycle.
Thanks to machine learning, the personalized curve adjusts to the data, the more data entered, the more accurate the results. It is a tool for the person to keep track of their hormones throughout different life stages. And the results provide data as if they had a blood test every day of the menstrual cycle.
Improving Women’s Health
An endocrinologist makes recommendations about hormones on how to improve the person’s overall health and well-being, based on the connections a person makes between hormone variations during the menstrual cycle and the symptoms they are experiencing at that time. It offers practical, actionable and personalized advice on its subject. This recommendation is evidence-based, focusing on controlled factors such as diet and exercise in the context of a person’s lifestyle and goals.
It also gives the person a score for the overall ovarian response. This score is called the ‘Fourth Ovarian Responsive Metric’ (FORM) score, which calculates the balance of control (FSH and LH) and response (estrogen and progesterone) hormones taken at two important time points in the menstrual cycle. It can provide information that will help to improve conditions. Conditions such as irregular periods, premenstrual syndrome, fertility difficulties, PCOS and endometriosis are associated with female hormones. Female Hormone Mapping can help identify inadequate luteal phases and anovulatory cycles.
Perimenopause is the term used to describe the transition to menopause when the ovaries are less responsive. This produces decreased estrogen and progesterone levels and increased levels of FSH and LH control hormones. These changes cause many symptoms such as irregular periods that women experience, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Comparing the person’s FORM score over successive cycles may indicate any change in ovarian sensitivity. This is especially true for women who are wondering if they have perimenopause. As perimenopause is a dynamic condition, monitoring the FORM score quarterly allows monitoring for any reduction in ovarian response consistent with the menopausal approach.
Female hormones play a big role in women’s health. While a blood test is the gold standard for measuring all 4 key female hormones taken at one point at a time, especially on the 3rd day of the menstrual cycle when these hormones are least active, the person’s hormonal health does not provide enough information or insight. Because every woman’s menstrual cycle, hormone fluctuations and how she feels are unique to her. So a single blood test for a particular day of the menstrual cycle does not give a true idea of what is going on.
The purpose of the groundbreaking Female Hormone Mapping is to help women understand the link between personal internal hormone variation and its impact on their health and feelings. It indicates whether the hormones fluctuate throughout the month as expected, and whether any problems he experienced are related to changes in hormone levels.
Female Hormone Mapping aims to help all women feel their personal best throughout their menstrual life. For women facing the uncertainty that arises around perimenopause, Female Hormone Mapping provides a better understanding of the important changes that occur at this stage of life. The FORM score is an important tool that can be used by women to monitor ovarian response over time. For women with fertility issues or female hormone-related issues such as PCOS, Female Hormone Mapping can be helpful.
The advantages of a deeper understanding of changes in individual hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle and at different stages of life are obvious. It is hoped that it will empower these women, wherever and at what stage in their cycle, to plan ahead and design strategies to achieve their personal goals.
Writer: Ozlem Guvenc Agaoglu