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Rare Diseases Q1 2023

How much of an impact do female hormones have on our bodies?

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Sallyanne Brady

Founder, The Irish Menopause

If you have a female reproductive system, then you will go through perimenopause. It’s up to you to educate yourself about hormones and discuss the possibilities with your doctor – nobody else will do this for you. 

Our bodies have been sending us messages constantly since puberty with clear instructions for the day ahead. Enter your mid to late-30s, and the messages don’t come some days. What are the messages, you ask? 

Understanding female hormones  

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They carry information and instructions from one set of cells to another. The endocrine system (which releases the hormones) influences every cell, organ, and function of our bodies. Our life since puberty has been all about hormones. As women, we need to understand their importance and what may happen without them. 

Female hormones affect various parts of the body 

Our bones can begin to deteriorate, lose mass and may later on lead to osteoporosis. Our hearts rely on oestrogen too, it needs it to protect our arteries and blood vessels. Moreover, brains are full of hormone receptors. Our digestion – yes that is also affected. Did you know that even your gut has hormone receptors? Receptors are everywhere. 

Our joints will end up hurting too. No, it’s not just getting old. Hormones are like a lubricant; when they’re gone, the body will stiffen up. You will have an awful lot of unexplained aches and pains. You may even be diagnosed with a new onset of conditions such as fibromyalgia. 

Hormones are like a lubricant; when they’re gone, the body will stiffen up.

Why oestrogen is an important hormone 

Our vaginas and bladders are greatly affected by hormones. You will, all of a sudden, be getting new bouts of urinary infections, thrush and urgency, among others. The vagina needs local oestrogen. 

Vaginal atrophy, which essentially means the ‘wasting away’ of the vagina, will happen without oestrogen. This can lead to a prolapse, and even worse, sepsis from an infection. 

Menopause only happens for one day 

Menopause is only for one day — the day you have been period-free for 12 months or 24 months if under the age of 50. The day after this one day, you are then post-menopause. Welcome to the rest of your life without hormones. 

So, do you get the picture? There isn’t a centimetre of our body that doesn’t have a hormone receptor. Every woman needs to be equipped with this information, and more people should understand how female hormones work. To sum it up — ‘When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras!’ 

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