A user guide to pregnancy hormones
Hormones are “chemical messengers” that transfer information to different organs in the body to ensure that everything works correctly. They play a vital role during pregnancy and birth of course.
Hormones stimulated during pregnancy inform your body of the presence of an embryo; they also get organising to make foetal development possible. This “hormonal revolution” can have certain side effects. Unpredictable moods, in particular...
Learn some of the basics about pregnancy hormones and what role they play during your pregnancy.
What is human chorionic gonadotropin doing during pregnancy?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) triggers oestrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries and is released very early on after conception. If you take a pregnancy test, hCG levels in your urine are detected as early as 2 weeks after conception.
The medical world has divided this “hormonal revolution” which occurs during pregnancy into two major stages. The first “ovarian” phase lasts the first seven weeks. The second “placental” phase is when the placenta takes over and starts to produce progesterone and oestrogen, and a variety of other strange-named hormones.
Progesterone and oestrogen are vital to a woman's wellbeing. They flood a woman's body before, during and after pregnancy. In fact, a pregnant woman produces the same quantity of oestrogen as a non-pregnant woman would in 150 years!
What is oestrogen doing during pregnancy?
Oestrogen activity is high and ensures a number of functions in a woman’s body: making skin look radiant, giving a woman her curves, increasing breast volume and causing cellular transformations in the vagina necessary for the development of defence mechanisms. Oestrogen also moistens cervical mucous, causes internal movements within the fallopian tubes and increases blood sugar levels. It also participates in regulating body temperature. So, quite important, as you can see.
What is progesterone doing during pregnancy?
Progesterone, produced by the ovaries, is another hormone vital to the reproductive cycle. One of its essential functions is to create the conditions necessary for the foetus to fix onto the uterus wall when it starts to grow and before development can begin. Immediately after conception, progesterone levels are already 10 times higher than before.
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