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Relationship between female hormones and intestines

Female hormones are a lifelong friend and deeply involved in the activity of intestines

You may have an experience of hearing from people saying generally “the intestines of men tend to be vulnerable and easily get diarrhea” or “many women have a constipation symptom”. These comments are deeply connected with a difference between men and women, in other words, with sex hormones, especially, the intestinal condition of women are affected greatly by the state of female hormones.

There are two kinds of female hormones: estrogen (follicle hormone) and progesterone corpus luteum hormone). Female hormones change greatly with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, around menopause, hormone therapies and so on. The ovary secretes female hormones in response to a command from the hypothalamus in the brain and female hormones course through the body via the blood stream. The two hormones act on women both physically and mentally by the change of their secreted volume in a constant cycle. Estrogen holds a prominent position from the period of menstruation to ovulation, progesterone holds a prominent position from the period of ovulation to the next menstruation.

Actually, estrogens influence the motility of intestines and other organs. During the period when a great volume of estrogens are secreted, intestinal movements become active. On the other hand, progesterone suppresses intestinal movements, retains moisture in the body, and increases our appetite. Once the amount of progesterone increases, the moisture absorption from the large intestine becomes more active which will result in the decrease of moisture in feces. In addition to this condition, due to the increased appetite, the amount of dietary intake increases which makes us prone to be constipated. The level of progesterone rises during the pregnancy period which can drive pregnant women to become constipated or have more appetite.

Female hormones are not only related with causing constipation but also with the secretion of serotonin

Since female hormones act on the hypothalamus in the brain and autonomic nerves, they are responsible for our feelings. Once estrogens increase, the function of serotonin which is often called as the happiness hormone is normalized, our mental state becomes stable and our physical condition gets better. Conversely, when estrogens decrease and progesterone increases, the function of serotonin decreases which will drive us to be emotionally unstable and disturb our physical conditions. There is a gender difference in the response against stress but the state of female hormones is deeply involved in it.

Credit to: Muneaki Takahata Ph.,D.