Women's Health Friday December 4, 2015

Female Hormones: Myths & Facts

Do you accuse your hormones of creating a monster each month?

Perhaps others sometimes suggest you're acting crazy because of hormones - 'don't mind her, she's got the decorators in' - is this derogatory nonsense, or derogatory truth? Let's take a look.

Do menstruating women actually lose their minds?

Hormones can affect some women rather strongly. It's all depends on the individual, but yes, hormones can affect temper and rationality.

Some very strong-minded women who would usually laugh at the John Lewis Peeping Tom Christmas ad may find themselves weeping hysterically over it during their period. On the other hand, normally shy women may find themselves asserting their rights to be heard during a rowdy meeting, so it can work well - use the power wisely!

With hormone fluctuations come physical issues. Anaemia, cramps, worry about leaking periods, lack of sleep, hot flushes - this can all mount up and cause emotional issues too. The pill can help with PMS symptoms, but if you feel miserable and overwhelmed for more than a few weeks see your GP.

Do hormones cause bad skin?

If your skin breakout coincides with your period, then yes probably, but you can also blame breakouts on stress, bad skincare products or your diet.

Does menopause equal the end of sex?

It's true that the menopause can affect your sex life. A vagina drier than a thousand year old mummy can put some women off sex; others are busy dealing with weight issues or hot flushes that are no joke. A drop in hormones can affect your sex drive, but this doesn't apply to all women, and those who are affected won't feel rubbish all the time.

BUT! It might be a sign your relationship isn't flourishing, you're getting no exercise, or perhaps your contraceptive pill/implant is playing a part. You may need to channel Sherlock Holmes to sort this out.

Is it hormones making me eat like Pac-Man?

Some women find their appetites increase during periods or menopause. Fluctuating hormones equals fluctuating appetites.

Can hormones make my gums bleed?

Progesterone surges can cause sensitive teeth and sore gums. It's no excuse to avoid the dentist though. Have regular check-ups and keep your mouth healthy. Dentists can pick up on oral cancer, so if you regularly have a sore mouth it's worth getting it checked.

Is HRT dangerous?

Despite media scare stories (every editor loves a hysterical headline), HRT can support and even end the actual hell some women experience during menopause.

There are pros and cons to chat through with your doctor, but if you are suffering at the hands of menopause, HRT may be the answer for you.

Can hormones cause high cholesterol?

They can! Cholesterol can rise by 20% in the early stage of your cycle. It can also raise your blood pressure, upset your digestive system and trigger flare-ups of psoriasis, eczema and autoimmune diseases.

We need hormones, but they can be a major pain.

The truth is that hormones can affect you in many ways, but there are diseases and poor lifestyle choices that can contribute just as much. If you think hormones are making your life hell, tidy up your diet, exercise levels, sleep time and hygiene. If your symptoms continue there are options such as HRT or the pill that can help regulate them.

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