In the Indian context, reproductive health (much like general health) isn't a matter of general housekeeping. Internationally, a girls first gynac visit happens anywhere between 13-15 years of age. As an Indian woman, though, chances are you've only ever seen a gynaecologist if there's an issue or if you're planning a child. Traditionally, women's health issues aren't a household topic. Your hormonal and reproductive health extends far beyond just child bearing. Here's a couple of things you need to know
It's All Connected: Why You Should Care About Your Reproductive Health
Your reproductive system plays a vital role in everyday life overall, not just when you're pregnant. It can affect your mood, energy levels, weight and general well-being. That's because the female body has several hormones that control and regulate your body's day-to-day functions, including reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Balancing these two is crucial because they work in tandem with the rest of your body to help you live your healthiest, best life.
Progesterone especially ensures your ovaries function correctly, normalizes your menstrual cycle, keeps your blood oxygen levels normal and serves as a diuretic and antidepressant. Your hormones not only stabilize your mood, but it can help you keep your weight down and prevent or diagnose diseases like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and certain cancers.
Your reproductive hormones aren't just related to each other either. In your body, everything is connected. Your metabolism, specifically your thyroid hormone, can also affect your reproductive health. Having a low active thyroid, for example, can cause irregular periods, according to research published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, while thyroid disease can affect your reproductive system if not treated correctly.
When Your Hormones Aren't Normal
Low hormones levels can kick-start serious issues in your body. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor:
- Irregular periods
- Cramps during periods
- Inability to conceive/early miscarriage
- Depression and vacillating moods.
- Distraction, low memory and inability to focus on tasks.
- Night sweats and disturbed, irregular sleep or insomnia.
- Abdominal pain during pregnancy.
- Extreme hunger or thirst.
Staying Healthy and Getting Your Hormones in Line
It's important to regularly check your hormone levels, especially if you face issues with your menstrual cycles and experience frequent mood swings. Your body, especially your endocrine system of hormones, is all connected, and making sure one part functions correctly helps every other part work better. Consult your doctor at routine checkups about how your diet, lifestyle and environment can change your hormones.
The simplest way to do this is via blood hormone testing. These tests give you an early alert on your current reproductive health and should be taken regularly especially when you feel you're seeing some of the symptoms listed above. If the blood tests for progesterone show the hormone is lower than your normal levels, do consult a specialist. It's important to seek expert advice before taking any form of medication.
Lifestyle changes are also important to consider. That includes starting (and sticking to) an exercise routine at least three to four times a week. A spike in blood sugar can also affect your hormone levels, so eating a diet of lean protein, whole grains and fresh produce can potentially keep you regulated. Also, ask your doctor what supplements or vitamins would help with your specific symptoms.
You would also want to practice stress relief, as anxiety can trigger the secretion of cortisol, which, in turn, adversely affects your progesterone levels.
A few simple actions taken at the right time can save you so much trouble and pain. So, talk to your doctor about how you can live a happy and healthy life, thanks to your hormones.
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