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Hormonal Health: Navigating Menstrual Cycles, Pregnancy, and Menopause

Amanda Winstead
Mastering women’s health is an intricate balance of monitoring hormones and considering other external factors. Symptoms like acne, irritability, weight gain, weight loss, low energy, and hot flashes can be attributed to changes in hormone levels that inherently happen with reproductive cycles.

Mastering women’s health is an intricate balance of monitoring hormones and considering other external factors. Symptoms like acne, irritability, weight gain, weight loss, low energy, and hot flashes can be attributed to changes in hormone levels that inherently happen with reproductive cycles.  

From menstruation through pregnancy and menopause, women experience a slew of physical and emotional ups and downs. Learn about the way these hormonal experiences can change your lifestyle depending on what stage you are in — and learn how to handle them for holistic health and well-being.

Why Hormonal Health for Women Is So Important

Understanding how your body works and reacts to certain stimuli is crucial to achieving holistic health. For women, hormonal health is intrinsically tied to important reproductive periods (no pun intended) in their lives. It may be difficult to distinguish between symptoms of these cycles and a hormonal imbalance — or a different illness entirely.

Finding the underlying cause of symptoms is the best way to feel better because you are treating the root of the problem instead of masking it. Beyond reproduction, hormonal health influences mood, energy levels, bone density, and even cardiovascular health. Imbalances can contribute to a range of conditions, including menstrual irregularities, fertility challenges, and the notorious symptoms associated with menopause.

Acknowledging and prioritizing hormonal health is not only vital for reproductive well-being but also pivotal for overall physical and mental wellness. A clear picture of hormonal health can help you navigate the different stages of your life as a woman with resilience and vitality.

Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle

Puberty marks the start of your hormones’ impact on your development. Most notably, you begin the menstruation cycle — a natural cycle controlled by female hormones like estrogen, progesterone, the luteinizing hormone, and the follicle-stimulating hormone. This can affect daily life for you in many ways, including:

  • Cramps and breast tenderness, part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), the latter with more severe symptoms;
  • Changes in your skin and hair, including an increase in sebum production that can make skin and hair oilier and lead to acne breakouts;
  • Fluctuations in libido according to the stage of your cycle, typically with high libido before ovulation starts and low libido right before your period;
  • Mental health and behavioral changes, like irritability, anger, and fear during your period and a boost in serotonin that peaks before your next period;
  • Changes in appetite and gastrointestinal issues, such as cravings during your period and GERD before, after, and during your period.

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Every body is different, so symptoms may present in different ways for you. It’s wise to keep track of your symptoms related to your menstrual cycle and the various phases you go through every month. This will give you insight into normal fluctuations and irregular symptoms that may indicate a hormonal imbalance.

Look for signs like heavy bleeding, missed periods, extreme mood swings, fluid retention, or excessively painful periods. If there is any issue or you want to prevent pregnancy, you may be prescribed contraception in the form of pills, a ring, or a patch to change your hormone levels.  Speak with your doctor to find the right treatment for you.


Pregnancy is another momentous time in many women’s lives that is marked by profound hormonal shifts. Your hormones during pregnancy are integral to your well-being and the development of your baby.

Oxytocin, prolactin, human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), human placental lactogen (hPL), progesterone, and estrogen surge during this time to create an optimal environment for fetal growth, ensuring proper organ development and placental function. Your body also releases relaxin and prostaglandins to help ease the labor process.

These intense fluctuations in hormones can lead to:  

  • Changes in mood and energy, including noticeable stints of sadness, lethargy, and irritability;
  • Increased feelings of bonding with the baby;
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort, like nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, reflux, and constipation;
  • Softness of ligaments, to make labor easier but also that can cause pain or injury.

It’s normal to feel emotionally and physically vulnerable during pregnancy. Maintaining a delicate hormonal balance is essential for the prevention of complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. By actively monitoring and managing your hormonal health during pregnancy through regular check-ups and lifestyle adjustments, you can foster a nurturing environment for both yourself and your baby.  

Some changes are inevitable, especially the emotional ones. It’s a drastic change to your life that is both beautiful and intimidating at times. Your family and friends can be there for you to support you throughout your pregnancy.

Take some time to express gratitude to them through thank you cards for their support, advice, and thoughtful gifts from your baby shower to the delivery. It’s important to keep a solid support system around you and your child during this time. This includes a medical team to care for you and your child on the way.


Later in life, menopause marks the cessation of your reproductive years. This typically occurs around ages 51 or 52, but this can vary. If you notice menopausal symptoms before age 40, this is premature menopause.

The time around the end of your reproductive years is called perimenopause. All phases of menopause can bring about significant hormonal changes that can have a profound impact on your physical and emotional well-being.

The decline in estrogen levels triggers a range of symptoms, creating a unique set of experiences for each woman. Key manifestations of hormonal fluctuations during menopausal changes include:

  • Hot flashes that come as sudden, intense waves of warmth;
  • Changes in mood, like irritability, anxiety, and changes in emotional well-being;
  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or restless nights;
  • Vaginal dryness, sometimes causing discomfort;
  • Changes in libido, typically a lowered sexual desire;
  • Bone density loss, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. 

Understanding and managing these hormonal changes are essential when navigating through menopause. It’s a transformative phase of your life that quite literally causes a hormonal imbalance. You can treat hot flashes by avoiding triggers like spicy food, wearing lightweight clothing, exercising, or adding supplements to your diet.

There are potential risks with supplements, however. They can be mislabeled or overused, particularly when trying to replace hormones. Taking more than the recommended amount or a different brand could lead to unintended side effects. Consult an OB/GYN or physician when you’re making any changes and to seek assistance with other menopausal symptoms.

Moving Forward

Keeping tabs on your hormonal fluctuations can help you have a holistic view of your overall well-being. As you go through the phases of your life as a woman, learn to embrace the beauty of what your body is doing to keep you reproductive and healthy.

In menopausal years, look back on how your body has served you up until this point, and enjoy learning to care for it in different ways post-menopause. As a woman, you are unique and dynamic, and your healthcare should reflect that.

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NannoPad®  is a must-have for a healthier period. Super thin and absorbent, NannoPad is developed to help with your menstrual discomfort in a holistic and effective way. See reviews here. Incontinence version NannoDry® is available too!

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on X.  


NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. 

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