Sex Hormone Imbalances: Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone
Men and women produce the same hormones, just in different amounts. The sex hormones are involved in much more than just reproduction and sex characteristics, and in fact interact intimately with each other, and the adrenals, to influence almost all bodily functions.
Progesterone and estrogen work in concert, with many of the physiological effects of progesterone being amplified by estrogen. Progesterone is also the ‘mother’ hormone, turning into other hormones, including DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen. This means that during situations of chronic stress, when progesterone turns into cortisol in large amounts, there isn’t enough left to turn into other hormones, creating an imbalance.
Estrogen naturally declines as women (and men) age. As progesterone levels are dependent on estrogen levels, progesterone also declines, but often more rapidly, leading to estrogen dominance. This decline in estrogen and progesterone also impacts testosterone levels. Testosterone is a precursor to estradiol and estrone (estrogens), as well as regulating HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) response. The hypothalamus regulates cortisol and other hormonal levels. As you can see, hormone relationships are complex.