Marla Ahlgrimm is a retired hormone specialist that spent more than 40 years helping women achieve balanced hormones. Here, she offers a quick refresher on what, exactly, hormones are, and touches on key points as to how they affect the body.
Q: What are hormones?
Marla Ahlgrimm: You’ll hear the description “chemical messengers” more often than once when asking this question. Hormones are essentially chemicals that deliver messages, or instructions, from a specific gland to other parts of the body.
Q: Where do they come from?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Hormones come from the endocrine system. This is a large collection of glands, which include the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenals. In women, the ovaries are also part of the endocrine system as are testes in men. Science can even produce hormones in a laboratory setting. This is helpful in many cases, such as when a person has had their thyroid gland removed or is suffering from a hormone deficiency.
Q: How do hormones travel throughout the body?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Hormones circulate through the bloodstream. And they can only affect cells with receptors specific to them. When an event happens to trigger the release of hormones, these hormones are secreted and travel throughout the body in search of their receptors. Once they bind, they can result in a virtually infinite number of biologic processes.
Q: How do hormones affect genders differently?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Men and women, for the most part, have the same hormones. However, as it pertains to sex hormones, women have more estrogen whereas men have more testosterone. These two hormones play a part in physiological development. Women, for example, develop breasts while men do not because of a different formula of the same hormones. Likewise, because men have more testosterone in their bodies, they typically grow taller, have more facial hair, and better defined muscles.