Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Hormones in action when a woman ovulates.

When a woman ovulates, various hormones in her body are synchronized to prepare her for ovulation, fertilization and implantation. Ovulation occurs approximately 10-12 hours after the LH peak. Here are the primary hormones involved in ovulation in women:

1. Progesterone - The ovaries produce significant amounts of progesterone during the 2 weeks or so that follow ovulation. Progesterone thickens the nutrient-rich endometrium in preparation to receive a fertilized egg. It also acts on the breasts to prepare them for milk production (lactation).

2. Estrogen – Estrogen is produced in increasing quantities prior to ovulation, helps the uterus rebuild its lining (or endometrium) after menstruation. In addition, estrogen and progesterone also act as feedback controls on the brain hormones LH and FSH. In other words, these sex hormones travel to the brain to increase or decrease LH and FSH production. This feedback mechanism helps to regulate the timing and the events of the menstrual cycle.

3. Estrogen and progesterone are both made primarily in the ovaries from cholesterol. Initially, the ovaries use cholesterol to derive progesterone and the male sex hormone testosterone. Then the ovaries convert a good portion of the progesterone and almost all of the testosterone into estrogen. After ovulation occurs, more progesterone is made than can be converted; consequently, significant amounts of progesterone are secreted only during the latter half of the cycle.

4. LH- The LH surge is initiated by a dramatic rise of estradiol produced by the preovulatory follicle. The LH surge occurs 34 to 36 hours prior to ovulation and is a relatively precise predictor for timing ovulation. The LH surge stimulates luteinization and stimulates the synthesis of progesterone responsible for the mid cycle FSH surge. Also, the LH surge stimulates resumption of meiosis and release of ovum.

5. FSH- Estradiol levels fall dramatically immediately prior to the LH peak. Elevated FSH levels at this time are thought to free the ovum from the follicular attachments. Progesterone is responsible for stimulating the mid cycle rise in FSH. The mechanism causing the postovulatory fall in LH is unknown. The decline in LH may be due to the loss of the positive feedback effect of estrogen, due to the increasing inhibitory feedback effect of progesterone, or due to a depletion of LH content of the pituitary from downregulation of GnRH receptors.

Find out what is ovulation and what are the physical signs of ovulation.

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