3 Things You Should Know About Hormones (But Probably Don’t)
A while back, I wrote an article about my increasing realization of how little I know about my body, particularly when it comes to menstrual health. There are plenty of reasons — limited sex education as well as the overall lack of funding for women’s health research and innovation, to name a few. But I also didn’t use to ask questions about my body like I do now.
As the saying goes, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and once I began to realize how much information I lacked, it piqued my curiosity to know more. I started reading books and listening to podcasts and following doctors on Instagram and as I did, I was surprised to see the topic of hormones come up again and again. Turns out, hormones do a lot more than give us acne during adolescence. In fact, scientists have identified more than 50 hormones in the human body that impact everything from sleep to sexual function to stress to metabolism.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with De’Nicea Hilton Harper, a doctor of Eastern Medicine and holistic well-being consultant. Having studied hormones extensively during her medical training, De’Nicea is well-versed in hormonal health and specializes in helping women find alignment between their body and mind. While I don’t typically write informational articles, I wanted to share some of the most interesting insights that came out of my conversation with De’Nicea. Plus, in case anyone reading this is questioning their own knowledge of hormones (trust me, you’re not alone), maybe this can help.
Hormones act together, not alone
Hormones are like tiny messengers that tell our body what to do, when to do it and how. However, one of the common misconceptions, De’Nicea says, is that hormones act individually when really they’re part of an integrated system. Just as there is with any messaging system, there is a sender, a receiver, and a creator of the message, which in this case is the hormone itself. When you address one, you affect them all, she said.
As an example, I read online after my conversation with De’Nicea that a lack of sleep can cause the body to produce higher levels of cortisol AKA the stress hormone, which…