We often use the word “hormone” in a variety of situations. Recall what it means from a medical point of view?
Hormones are called special substances that are produced in the human body and alter the work of tissues and organs.
Cells that produce hormones are called endocrine glands. These include the thyroid gland, pancreas, adrenal glands, testes and ovaries, some parts of the brain – the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and epiphysis. Together, these glands form the endocrine system.
In medical practice, endocrinology deals with hormonal regulation. Hormones affect many body systems, therefore endocrinology is closely related to cardiology, gynecology, gastroenterology, neurology and other areas of medicine.
We will tell in more detail about some hormones that strongly affect health, behavior, mood and even the formation of social ties.
It stands out when you are stressed.
Some believe that the release of adrenaline causes anxiety and fear, but this is not entirely true. Adrenaline does not affect the psyche – it causes only physiological reactions: increased pulse and pressure, dry mouth, trembling. Such reactions of the body are associated in people with anxiety, so the release of adrenaline can cause a subjective sense of fear.
Another myth associated with adrenaline is that it allegedly causes positive emotions. People who like extreme sports – for example, skydiving – are considered “adrenaline addicts”. It is assumed that they enjoy the release of adrenaline.
In fact, this is not true – these people sit down on endorphins, which stand out with adrenaline. At the time of stress and danger, the body believes that it can die or get serious injuries, so just in case produces endorphins – they anesthetize and improve mood.
Adrenaline helps mobilize and give out one of the ancient reactions “to fight or run.” But with modern stresses – the chief, traffic jams, deadlines shouted – you usually do not need to do either. So adrenaline often works idly, wearing out the cardiovascular system.
To discharge immediately after stress, “physical education” is useful: to go for a walk, climb the stairs, poprised or walk at a rapid pace.
This is a “social” hormone. It affects relationships with children and behavior in pairs.
Oxytocin stimulates labor in women, strengthening the contraction of the uterus musculature. He not only facilitates the process of childbirth, but also causes the mother’s attachment to the newborn.
Some believe that with a cesarean section (COP), the mother’s relationship with the child is disrupted, as with such genera oxytocin is not secreted. In a study where two groups of women, who gave birth naturally and with the help of CS, were allowed to listen to the crying of their child and in parallel made an MRI, it became clear that “natural” parturient women actually activated some of the brain zones in response to child crying.
Women who have passed through the COP, do not despair. Another study showed that the level of oxytocin is constantly growing when interacting with the baby – both in women and men. If parents regularly engage with the baby, six months after his birth, the level of oxytocin in mom and dad becomes the same. It turns out that there is no special difference between “maternal” and “fatherly” love, and parental feelings appear with constant contact with the child.
Oxytocin is also called the “love hormone”. Its influence on women is especially strong. When vaginal sex, during the stimulation of the vagina in women, the level of oxytocin increases, so that it begins to feel affection for the partner.
This is another stress hormone. If adrenaline gives a quick response to stress, then the function of cortisol – to prepare the body for long-term stress. Today, when many of us live in chronic stress, many people have elevated cortisol levels.
This is quite dangerous, because metabolism is altered under the influence of cortisol (especially glucose), anti-inflammatory reactions are included. All this should help a person to survive difficult times: get “fast” energy from carbohydrates, quickly recover from injuries and not be distracted by ARVI.
The problem is that “long enough stress” by the standards of our ancestors is a few hours hunting for a mammoth or escape from a lion, and not a daily struggle with deadlines. Nature did not expect that we will live in constant stress.
Long-term elevated cortisol suppresses immunity and disrupts its natural work – hence allergies and other autoimmune diseases. It interferes with the metabolism of glucose – this can lead to diabetes mellitus. Finally, cortisol causes the body to constantly work “on the limit”, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
An interesting fact: a new love – the same factor of chronic stress for the body, like hard work or prolonged illness. Psychiatrists from the Italian city of Pisa compared the level of cortisol in 24 people who recently (within the last six months) fell in love, and 24 people who were alone or in long-term relationships. In loving subjects, the level of cortisol was off scale, in the control group it was normal.
However, when the scientists returned to the enamored respondents a couple of years later and made a new measurement, it turned out that cortisol returned to normal. Perhaps the fact that “love lives three years” is not so bad for the body, because people simply could not stand such stress for the rest of their lives.
Almost all the known effects of prolactin are associated with sex and reproduction.
The level of prolactin can be assessed satisfaction after intercourse. The Scottish scientist Stuart Brodie and his colleague Tilman Krueger from Switzerland analyzed the data of men and women who engaged in vaginal sex or masturbated. It turned out that after reaching orgasm, the level of prolactin in both men and women increases dramatically – and when the sexual act is 400% greater than when masturbating. Probably, nature has taken care of that sex with the partner was more satisfactory – all for the sake of reproduction.
By the way, about reproduction: after the birth of a child, prolactin stimulates the production of maternal milk. At the same time, he suppresses ovulation so that the woman does not become pregnant again while feeding the infant (although this method of contraception is not always effective). Although, if you are a nursing mother, you may not want sex at all: Prolactin reduces the level of the sex hormone estrogen and inhibits libido.
The main effect of progesterone is anti-anxiety. Everyone knows that worry during pregnancy is harmful. In women, during each menstrual cycle, immediately after ovulation, the level of progesterone rises – this hormone, firstly, prepares the uterus for a possible pregnancy, and secondly, as a bonus, prepares for her and the psyche of a woman. It turns out that a woman in the second half of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy seems to be “sitting” on serious tranquilizers.
But there is one “but”, more precisely, two – PMS and postpartum depression. If a woman does not become pregnant, the level of progesterone drops sharply, menstruation begins. Sensations at the same time – as if you suddenly stopped to drink soothing: anxiety, irritability, mood swings. Here to you and PMS!
Approximately the same sentiments among women who have recently given birth. Progesterone declines after it has been at a high level for a long time, a woman experiences severe anxiety, which, combined with the stress of caring for the newborn, can result in postpartum depression.
In the male body, progesterone can be produced in small amounts in the adrenal glands, in men it also has an anti-anxiety effect.
The difference between male and female sex hormones, in fact, is not so great. In the female body, testosterone is also available, but in small amounts. In the ovaries, he undergoes a reaction of aromatization and turns into a female sex hormone – estradiol, which plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle, developing the vagina, uterus and mammary glands.
Testosterone is also meant primarily when talking about male sex hormones. But his activity is not very high. To the male body received a full set of signs of its sex, testosterone should turn into an active form – dihydrotestosterone. This requires a special enzyme – 5-alpha-reductase. In addition to machismo, it protects men’s hearts, gives men honesty, makes them generous – the action is very multifaceted.