Menstrual problems seem to
be a common concern.
Most women understand
that there are two basic
"female " hormones at
work in the body. Estrogen
causes most of the characteristics that
differentiate women from men. Some
classic features include bodily curves,
due to fat placement in various areas,
feminine voice, and the lack of a true
beard. I must emphasize that variation is
great, just as personalities amongst individuals are refreshingly different.
Progesterone is derived from ancient
Latin meaning literally "before pregnancy" which is probably appropriate since
many of its jobs involve preparations for
a baby. For example, along with its partner estrogen, progesterone makes the
womb thicker and more vascular, in
order to feed an implanting embryo. If a
pregnancy progresses, the body gets a
message to keep on producing valuable
hormones in order to maintain a primed
system. In the absence of fertilization, the
uterus usually gets tired of waiting for
pregnancy about the third week of most
cycles and sends a message to the body
not to bother with hormones any longer.
Menstruation then occurs, as the unsupported uterus sheds its lining.
Many of you have asked why your periods are different or abnormal. Menstrual periods vary a great deal from woman
to woman (even in the same woman) and
it is unfortunate that society is obsessed
with the term regular. Periods can come
early, late, or in abnormal flow amounts
if either of the hormones is out of balance
or suddenly stops. For example, many
women have lots of estrogen circulating
which makes the womb thick, but it is a
fragile build-up, because the partner hormone progesterone is not around to keep
the lining strong. This results in intermittent shedding or late heavy bleeding.
Large women have many of these
problems because fat acts like an extra
oven where some estrogens are produced
in excess, unbalancing the hormones. Fat
youngsters often mature earlier partly because of this process.
Some of you have asked why you have
more facial hair than thinner women. The
explanation begins with a curious fact.
Even women have some male hormones
circulating, but these are kept quiet by a
special neutralizing hormone. Sadly (depending on your point of view), in very
large women, this masking hormone disappears and up crops the hair.
Take heart, beautiful ladies. If makeup and a variety of depilatory techniques
are not to your liking, a physician can
usually figure out which hormones are
out of synch and replace them. Before
you take any medication ask about side
effects (like acne and bloating) and risks
(which are thankfully few).
The key, of course, is to find a sympathetic understanding doctor. So until next
time, keep the faith and enjoy life.