This International Women’s Day 2023 we want to empower women to put their own health and well-being first. Fertility, metabolism, mood, and even sleep all encompass female hormones and can often be overlooked as part of a busy lifestyle. Women are continuously being dismissed by the healthcare system, leaving their bodies and reproductive system a mystery. By allowing women to test their own hormones in the comfort of their own home, we are allowing them to see the natural fluctuation of their hormones that can be due to age and specific times of the month. It is vital to keep track of these changes and to understand if anything could potentially be affecting your hormone levels.
The Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is a series of hormonal changes which occur within 21-35 days, the average being 28 days. Periods of a menstrual cycle being less than 21 days or over 35 days can indicate possible issues.
There are 3 stages of this cycle: the follicular phase, mid-cycle (ovulation), and luteal phase. The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and lasts 13 to 14 days, followed by ovulation, which is the shortest phase of the cycle, and then the luteal phase lasts 14 days.
Follicular Phase: Oestradiol and progesterone are at their lowest, whilst an increase in FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) is seen, which tapers off by the end of the follicular phase.
Mid-cycle: Due to the initial increase of FSH, oestradiol begins to increase. The increase of oestradiol causes a surge in LH (luteinizing hormone), signalling the beginning of ovulation.
Luteal Phase: Occurs after ovulation and lasts 14 days. Progesterone rises to prepare for the fertilised egg and drops if there’s no pregnancy. This drop in progesterone and oestrogen causes menstruation and common premenstrual symptoms (PMS), such as: bloating, acne, headaches, mood changes, lower back pain, and abdominal pains.
Menstruation then begins again, and the cycle starts over.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) levels can be monitored at any point of the menstrual cycle and indicate the ovarian reserve. However, aren’t indicative of viable eggs available for ovulation.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Some women can also experience PMDD. This is a severe form of PMS, causing emotional and physical symptoms during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. Duration and symptoms of PMDD can vary with each person, and the severity can have a big impact on your day-to-day life.
Emotional symptoms can include: mood swings, lack of energy, feeling angry, difficulty concentrating, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Physical symptoms can include: headaches, changes in appetite, bloating, sleep problems, backaches, and abdominal cramps.
There is no known cause of PMDD, however the likeliness of having PMDD can increase with a family history of this or a family history of depression. Lifestyle changes and medication can help manage some symptoms, but this should be discussed with your doctor.
How to Check my Hormone Levels
At Randox Health, our Female Hormone blood test can help you see if you have a hormone imbalance that could be affecting your fertility, mood, weight, and energy levels. We test for 8 key markers, including oestradiol, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinising hormone. Our Anti-Mullerian Hormone test also allows you to gain insight on your ovarian reserve levels, and helps you find out if these levels are normal for your age.