Estradiol, the most potent type, prepares the uterus for conception. Stable levels can boost sex drive and immunity.
Big Impacts: Estrogen sends "grow" signals to your body's every cell, from your breasts to your bones. But too much can lead to severe PMS, fertility woes, even breast cancer. Too little can lead to osteoporosis.
The Balancing Act: Being way too thin can hinder production, while extra fat cells can produce a type of estrogen that messes with estradiol. The key: maintaining a healthy weight. Aim for a BMI between 18.5 and 30.
It creates a cushy uterine lining (i.e., an embryo crib) each month. No conception? Levels sink, triggering your period.
Big Impacts: Talk about a love-hate affair: Progesterone has a mild sedative effect that can lead to solid sleep (hence those sounder pre-rag z's). It can also ramp up water retention, gassiness, and constipation...ouch.
The Balancing Act: Since regulating this hormone is critical for baby-making, many wannabe mamas turn to OTC creams. Don't. Studies show they're useless. What may work: meditation, as little as five minutes per day.
Not just for guys, the androgen hormone supports regular ovulation and a hearty libido. Rawrr!
Big Impacts: Too-high levels—often associated with PCOS (see page 150)—can cause acne, dandruff, or dark hair in abnormal places. Lacking levels can zap your mojo and overall sense of well-being.
The Balancing Act: Excess testosterone has been closely linked to obesity, so strive for that beneficial BMI. If you're low, zinc-rich foods like hummus may increase levels. (Relax—you'll get an energy lift, not a man-beard.)
This one's made in the brain and its main jobs are to govern egg release and stimulate breast-milk production in new moms.
Big Impacts: Rare sky-high levels can squash your sex drive and bring on menopause-like symptoms. Slightly elevated levels can suppress ovulation. Post-childbirth, normal levels can help you ditch pounds faster.
The Balancing Act: Skimping on sleep can spike stress hormones such as cortisol and prolactin. Score optimal levels by committing to seven to eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye every night.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) readies eggs for prime time; luteinizing hormone (LH) makes them drop.
Big Impacts: Ideal FSH/LH amounts can also contribute to favorable progesterone levels, while spiked FSH has been linked to memory problems, insomnia, and acne.
The Balancing Act: Keep a lid on your booze intake, especially if you're looking to have a baby: More than two drinks per day can throw FSH and LH production out of whack.
So, what do you think? Are you on the right track and healthy enough? I know it might seem a little too much at times, but be sure to follow the advice above! My one and only additional advice is: always keep it safe!