Female Sex Hormones: Types, Role, And More

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

Female sex hormones are a group of hormones that play a vital role in the development and functioning of the female reproductive system.

These hormones are secreted by the ovaries and play a key role in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and childbirth.

Female sex hormones are also important for the development of secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts and hips. In addition, these hormones influence mood, energy levels, and sex drive.

Many factors can disrupt the delicate balance of female sex hormones, including stress, diet, and certain medications. When this happens, it can lead to a host of problems, including irregular periods, infertility, and weight gain.

So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about female sex hormones.

All About female sex hormones

Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary hormones involved in the female sex. Despite being viewed as a masculine hormone, testosterone is also produced and used in small amounts by females.

  1. Estrogen

    Estrogen is a hormone that is vital to the development and function of the reproductive system in both women and men.

    Estrogen in women is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as breast development and the regulation of the menstrual cycle.

    In men, estrogen plays a role in bone health and the maintenance of muscle mass.

    While estrogen is essential for reproductive health, too much of this hormone can have negative effects on health.

    High levels of estrogen have been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer.

    Estrogen also plays a role in the development of cardiovascular disease, so too much of this hormone can put women at an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.

  2. Progesterone

    Progesterone is a hormone that plays an important role in the female reproductive cycle. It is produced by the ovaries and helps to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.

    If a woman does not become pregnant, progesterone levels will decrease and the menstrual cycle will begin.

    Progesterone levels can also affect a woman’s mood, energy levels, and sleep patterns.

    Some women may experience mood swings, fatigue, or insomnia during the second half of their menstrual cycle due to changes in progesterone levels.

    While progesterone is necessary for a healthy pregnancy, too much of it can be harmful. High progesterone levels can lead to nausea, vomiting, and even premature birth.

  3. Testosterone

    Testosterone is often thought of as a male sex hormone, but it is also present in women.

    Testosterone is responsible for many things in both men and women, including sex drive, energy levels, and muscle growth.

    While testosterone is beneficial for both sexes, too much of it can lead to problems.

    In women, high levels of testosterone may lead to irregular periods, excessive hair growth, and deepened voices.

    Similarly in men, excessively high levels of testosterone can cause aggressiveness, hair loss, and infertility.

Role Of Hormones In the Female Body

  1. Role In Puberty

    During puberty, the ovaries begin to release eggs and the body starts producing hormones that cause physical changes, such as breast development and the growth of pubic and underarm hair.

    As puberty progresses, girls will also experience a growth spurt and will begin to develop more curves.

    By the end of puberty, most girls will have reached their full adult height and weight.
  2. Role In Menstruation

    The female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a vital role in menstruation. estrogen levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, and this fluctuation is what causes the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation).

    Estrogen also thickens the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which helps prepare the body for pregnancy.

    If pregnancy does not occur, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease, which causes the endometrium to break down and shed through the vagina (menstruation).

    By hormonal changes, the menstrual cycle contains three phases:

    • Follicular phase
      The menstrual cycle’s follicular phase begins at this point. It begins on the first day of menstruation and lasts until ovulation.

      During this phase, the ovarian follicles mature and the uterine lining thickens in preparation for egg implantation. The follicular phase usually lasts around 14 days.

    • Ovulatory phase
      The ovulatory phase is the middle phase of the menstrual cycle, occurring after the follicular phase and before the luteal phase.

      It is during this phase that ovulation occurs when the ovary releases an egg that travels down the fallopian tube and is available to be fertilized by sperm.

      The ovulatory phase generally lasts for around 12-16 days, although it can vary from woman to woman.

      The length of the phase is determined by the length of the follicular phase, as the ovulatory phase begins on the day of ovulation and ends on the day before the next period.

    • Luteal phase
      The luteal phase is the second phase of the menstrual cycle, lasting from ovulation to the start of menstruation. It typically lasts for 12-14 days and is controlled by the hormone progesterone.

      During the luteal phase, the lining of the uterus thickens in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If implantation does not occur, progesterone levels will drop and the lining of the uterus will be shed, resulting in menstruation.

      Many women experience some symptoms during the luteal phase, such as mood swings, bloating, and breast tenderness. These symptoms are often at their worst during the first week or two of the luteal phase and then improve as the phase comes to an end.

  3. Role In Pregnancy

    Female sex hormones play an important role in pregnancy. These hormones help to regulate the development of the embryo and provide the necessary environment for a healthy pregnancy.

    Both of these hormones estrogen and progesterone are essential for a healthy pregnancy.

    Without them, the pregnancy would not be able to progress properly. The levels of these hormones vary throughout the pregnancy. 

    They are highest during the first trimester and then gradually decline as the pregnancy progresses. This decline is necessary for the delivery of the baby.

  4. Role In Menopause

    Female sex hormone levels play a major role in menopause. As women age and approach menopause, their ovaries begin to produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

    This decrease in hormone levels can cause a variety of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and more.

  5. Role In Sex Drive

    It is well-known that the female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a vital role in a woman’s sexual desire and arousal.

    However, what is not as well-known is how exactly estrogen affects a woman’s sexual response.

    Estrogen is responsible for increasing blood flow to the genitals, which leads to increased sensation and arousal.

    Additionally, estrogen helps to maintain vaginal lubrication, which is essential for comfortable and pleasurable sexual activity.

    So, if you’re experiencing a dip in your sexual desire or arousal, it could be due to a decrease in estrogen levels.

    Estrogen levels can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, such as stress, illness, menopause, and more.

Hormonal Imbalance In Women

When female sex hormones become unbalanced, it can lead to several different problems. For example, you may experience irregular periods, mood swings, weight gain, or problems with fertility.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to help balance your hormones and improve your overall health. If you think your hormones may be out of balance, talk to your doctor. 

They can run some tests and develop a treatment plan that is right for you. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help balance your hormones naturally.

  • Cut down on sugar and refined carbs. These foods can trigger insulin resistance, which can lead to hormone imbalances.
  • Eat more fiber-rich foods. Fiber helps to regulate hormone levels and can also promote weight loss.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for hormone balance.
  • Reduce stress.


In conclusion, female sex hormones are key to many aspects of women’s health. They play a role in regulating the menstrual cycle, bone health, and mood.

Imbalances in these hormones can lead to a variety of problems, including PMS, endometriosis, and osteoporosis. To maintain good health, it is important to keep these hormones in balance.

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