Hormones during pregnancy

Your health, structure, and ability to function throughout the years of your life depend on hormones. These chemicals deliver the messages responsible for coordinating and controlling the functions of cells and organs.

Hormones play a particularly prominent role when you are pregnant to help protect and nourish your baby, as well as prepare your body for childbirth and motherhood. Here is a comprehensive guide to the most essential pregnancy hormones in the body and their pregnancy role.

What hormones are essential during pregnancy?

Many physiological changes occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Among these changes is at the level of the endocrine system, which includes changes in the level of hormones and changes in the level of some metabolism processes.

It should be noted that the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy play an essential role in the development and growth of the fetus. In fact, hormonal changes cause mood swings and changes in the body’s ability to exercise and endure various physical activities.

1. LH (luteinizing hormone)

2. FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)

3. Progesterone

4. Relaxin

5. hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)

6. Prolactin

7. Estrogen

8. HPL (human placental lactogen)

9. Oxytocin

Here’s a comprehensive guide to each of the essential hormones listed above, including the role each plays.

1.   LH (luteinizing hormone)

What is the LH hormone?

It is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. This hormone is synthesized from an area in the brain called the hypothalamus. This gland controls the secretion of hormones from the gonad, including the LH hormone or luteinizing hormone.

It plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the reproductive system in the body. It also has an important role in controlling the ovarian secretions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in women and the secretions of the testicles of the hormone testosterone in men.

What role does the LH hormone play in pregnancy?

A girl produces a limited number of follicles in her ovary (a spherical cell assembly within which a female egg develops) of 300,000 follicles per ovary. A group of young follicles develops each month by the action of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, but eventually, only one follicle takes over.

This follicle develops by the previous hormone’s action into a mature follicle; In the middle of the menstrual cycle (about the 14th day), the hormone LH is secreted in large quantities, causing ovulation (ovulation). Those that result from the rupture and release of the mature follicle of the female egg within it, as it forcefully ejects it to enter the oviduct, also known as the fallopian tube (a part of the female reproductive system).

After ovulation, the mature follicle turns into the corpus luteum, which is a yellow cell mass due to the fat that enters its composition, but in many cases, it appears red. The corpus luteum is responsible for the secretion of sex hormones (particularly progesterone and estrogen) that stimulate the endometrium’s thickening to prepare it for receiving the fertilized egg.

(It is formed as a result of fertilization between the female egg and the male sperm, in the event of intercourse) and its nesting to later turn into a fetus. The yellow body lives for 14 days, and then it is destroyed and transformed into a non-functional fibrous body (the white body) if fertilization does not occur. IF the event occurs, the corpus luteum will continue to work to provide a suitable medium for pregnancy occurrence and continuation.

Then, the function of the luteinizing hormone lies in stimulating ovulation, forming the corpus luteum, and ensuring the continuation of its work and secretion of sex hormones that ensure the preparation of the endometrium for the occurrence and continuation of pregnancy.

Why is LH measured in blood and urine for pregnancy?

Luteinizing hormone is one of the most important hormones that control sexual function in females, so your doctor may ask you to perform an analysis to determine the percentage of this hormone in the blood and urine.

The following are some of the cases in which the LH hormone measurement is requested:

  • Determining the monthly period in which ovulation occurs in a woman, which is usually on the 14th day of the menstrual cycle (that is, two weeks after the last day of the menstrual cycle), which is considered the best time for pregnancy to occur in the event of sexual intercourse.
  • Ensure the effectiveness of the drugs administered to women to induce ovulation.
  • When a woman suffers from irregular or absent menstrual cycles, a disturbance in the normal values ​​of this hormone may lead to this occurring.

Normal female LH levels

  • During the Follicular Phase:

It represents the stage of development of follicles within the ovary to reach the dominant follicle that gives the egg cell. These changes occur during the first days of the menstrual cycle, and the LH hormone values ​​during this period range between (1.68-15) IU / liter.

  • During the Midcycle Peak:

This stage is characterized by the occurrence of ovulation, which is considered the best period for fertilization and pregnancy for a woman to occur; It occurs due to the rupture of the mature follicle and the ejaculation of the female egg within the oviduct.

This is due to a sharp rise in LH values. LH values ​​during this period range between (21.9-56.6) IU / liter.

  • During the Luteal Phase:

It represents the stage of formation of the corpus luteum and its secretion of sex hormones that prepare the uterus for pregnancy.

It was also named after the hormone that dominates during this stage of the menstrual cycle, the luteinizing hormone, and this phase lasts for about two weeks.

It corresponds to the last days of the menstrual cycle before menstruation and after ovulation. The values ​​of the hormone LH during this period range between (0.61-16.3) IU / liter.

  • During the postmenopausal period:

Menopause refers to the end of the stage of reproductive activity in women when the monthly bleeding stops, affecting women aged (45-55) years.

Menopause begins with irregular menstrual cycles (profuse, concurrent, or infrequent) until the menstrual bleeding stops completely.

 In addition to the presence of accompanying symptoms such as hot flashes, mental disorders such as depression, persistent anxiety, permanent nervousness, the values ​​of the hormone LH during this period range between (14.2-52.3) IU / liter.

2.   FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)

What is the FSH hormone?

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is an important part of the reproductive system, and the FSH hormone acts as a stimulant for the female sex glands. It is responsible for several vital processes in the body such as growth, sexual puberty, The development of a woman’s reproductive system, and the reproductive process.

This hormone is secreted in the anterior part of the pituitary gland, specifically in gonadotropin cells. These cells also secrete the luteinizing hormone. This hormone, along with the FSH hormone, is important for reproduction.

What role does the FSH hormone play in pregnancy?

FSH stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries, and the level of the hormone is not constant during the menstrual cycle, and the low level of the hormone allows choosing the most mature egg for ovulation. It reaches its highest levels before the ovary releases an egg. This is known as ovulation.

Scientists are still researching the dominant factor in FSH production, and it is believed that hormones in the hypothalamus affect this process. GnRH stimulates the pituitary gland to produce FSH, a hormone that causes estrogen levels to rise.

What are the levels of natural follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)?

Several conditions may play a role in altering FSH levels, and reference values ​​(most common) for FSH are estimated as follows:

The follicle-stimulating hormone value for females after menopause ranges from 16.7-113.6 international units per liter.

Follicle-stimulating hormone value for females before menopause is estimated as follows:

  • In the follicular phase: (3.9-8.8) IU / L.
  • Mid-menstrual period: (4.5-22.5) IU / liter.
  • The luteal phase: (1.8-5.1) IU / liter.

And the doctor provides a checklist for the results of the FSH analysis so that anyone can determine if their levels are normal, low, or high.

3. Progesterone

What is progesterone hormone?

Progesterone, or as it is called “the pregnancy hormone,” is one of the female hormones. It is secreted mainly by a temporary gland in the ovaries called the Corpus luteum, while it is secreted in a smaller quantity by the adrenal gland and the placenta.

During the second half of the menstrual cycle, when an egg is released for fertilization, progesterone plays an important role in preparing the uterus’ lining to receive a fertilized egg.

If fertilization is not done, the level of progesterone hormone will decrease due to the temporary dissolution of the gland, and the uterus sheds this lining to cause the menstrual cycle. As for fertilization, the progesterone hormone will have several functions.

 What role does progesterone hormone play in pregnancy?

The hormone progesterone performs the following functions:

  • Maintaining and securing the endometrium to preserve the fertilized egg during pregnancy.
  • Stopping the production of other eggs or preventing their fertilization during pregnancy.
  • While pregnant, it helps with fetus development.
  • Strengthen your pelvic muscles in preparation for childbirth.
  • Stimulate the breast tissue and the glands responsible for producing milk to complete the breastfeeding process.

Progesterone level in early pregnancy

Progesterone levels can be determined with a blood test. Nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) is the standard unit for Measurement levels. Progesterone levels rise dramatically in the first trimester, and the average hormone ranges between 11-44 ng / mL. Here are the percentages during the first weeks:

  • Week 1 and 2: The ovaries produce small amounts of progesterone at levels ranging from 0.1 to 1.5 ng / mL.
  • Week 3 and 4: After ovulation, the corpus luteum begins to produce progesterone, and levels start to increase above 2 ng / mL.
  • As early as the third week of pregnancy: the egg is fertilized, progesterone levels start to increase by 1 to 3 ng / ml every day or two until they reach a peak of 10 to 29 ng/ml.
  • By the sixth week of pregnancy: average progesterone levels are 10 to 29 ng / mL.
  • After the 10th week: Progesterone levels begin to rise again, reaching a first-trimester peak of 15 to 60 ng / mL.

How to use progesterone to stabilize pregnancy?

Sometimes you may need to use a progesterone supplement for reasons such as too little or no progesterone production from the ovaries, or having weak follicles that do not produce enough progesterone to develop the endometrium.

 Most women prefer a combination progesterone supplement that is easy and comfortable, so be sure to discuss your doctor’s options. Oral, vaginal, or intramuscular dosage forms are as follows:

  •  Oral: Taking it orally is the best solution for most women, but it shows many drawbacks, such as side effects such as nausea, headache, and drowsiness.
  • The vagina: the vaginal pathway leads to higher concentrations in the uterus but does not reach steady high blood levels.
  • Intramuscularly: the only route to optimal blood levels, although it may lead to abscesses.

 Although intramuscular progesterone generates high levels of progesterone in the blood, the vaginal route causes a very high local progesterone concentration in the endometrial tissue. The duration of treatment with progesterone supplementation ends between the ninth and 12th week of pregnancy.

 Now we will tell you about some natural ways to increase your progesterone hormone.

Natural recipes to increase progesterone

Some foods may help stimulate the body’s production of progesterone, including:

  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Grain.

Certain foods are also linked to lowering the amount of the hormone estrogen in the body, which may increase the proportion of progesterone to replace the hormone estrogen, such as:

  • banana.
  • Oysters.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help boost natural progesterone levels, and certain habits can also help, such as:

  • Maintaining a normal body weight: Estrogen and progesterone balance each other in the body. Excess body fat can lead to excess production of estrogen in the fat cells (by converting other hormones into estrogen). Unfortunately, the ovaries do not know this is happening, so they don’t make enough progesterone to compensate.
  • Avoid Exercising: Excessive exercise or stress, in general, may lead to unbalanced levels of cortisol that will reduce the hormone progesterone in the body. (Because our bodies are not designed to produce cortisol at such high intensity, at some point, the body looks for help, which it finds bypassing progesterone from the ovaries and converting it into cortisol.)

 Progesterone level changes

It is normal for the hormone progesterone level to be low until ovulation occurs, and it begins to rise and continues as well in the event of pregnancy when the placenta begins to secrete this hormone.

There are several cases in which an unjustified increase in the level of the hormone progesterone occurs, including:

  • Adrenal cancer.
  • Molar pregnancy
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Adrenal hyperplasia (Congenital adrenal hyperplasia).
  • High progesterone may increase the risk of breast cancer.

 On the other hand, several health conditions lead to a decrease in the level of the hormone progesterone in the body, including:

  • Dysfunction of the ovaries.
  • Increased prolactin hormone.
  • Menopause.

This decrease results in several different symptoms, including:

  • Irregular menstruation.
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Mood swings and depression.
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding.
  • Headache.
  • Health problems in the gallbladder.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Giveaways.

During pregnancy, low progesterone can lead to:

  • Bleeding occurs
  • Miscarriage or premature labor
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Extreme fatigue.

The difference between progesterone and progestin

Progesterone is an essential hormone in the body that it naturally produces. As for progestin, it is a synthetic hormone with progesterone-like properties that is used in cases of natural progesterone deficiency such as menopause or to stabilize pregnancy.

 As it is used in the contraceptive pill, synthetic progestin has the advantage of absorbing the natural hormone over the counter.

 4.   Relaxin

What is the Relaxin hormone?

Relaxin is the hormone that the body produces during pregnancy. Relaxin production usually begins after ovulation. High levels of this hormone are in the first trimester and the last few weeks of pregnancy. The main purpose of Relaxin during pregnancy is to relax and relax the pelvic muscles for easy vaginal delivery.

 Relaxin is found both in men and in non-pregnant women. But during pregnancy, females experience a spike in relaxin production. The endometrium, the placenta, and the membranes around the fetus – all produce the hormone relaxin to ease delivery. In the case of non-pregnant women, the corpus luteum, a structure in the ovary that secretes hormones and alone produces the hormone. In men, the prostate gland secretes the hormone relaxin in their bodies.

What role does the Relaxin hormone play in pregnancy?

Relaxin works various body functions during pregnancy. Some of them include:

  • Relaxin’s role during pregnancy expands the pelvic muscles to prepare the body for childbirth. The ease with which you can push your baby through the natural birth process depends on the flexibility of the pelvic muscles. Relaxin also relaxes the pelvic muscles.
  • Relaxin helps tighten the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. This is an important function as the abdominal muscles need to stretch continuously to accommodate your growing baby.
  • Having Relaxin in pregnancy also extends the rib cage so that the body can better adjust the pressure on the diaphragm than the uterus, which is growing. Relaxin affects other ligaments as well. During pregnancy, the additional production of the hormone makes the majority of tendons and ligaments more flexible than normal.
  • Relaxin prevents uterine contractions during the early stages of pregnancy, which prevents premature labor.

Other effects of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy:

So you can see, the hormone relaxin is very beneficial during pregnancy. But it can lead to some other effects, which could lead to minor inconveniences or health issues. So, you need to know all about these effects of Relaxin during pregnancy, which often includes:

  • Relaxin during pregnancy also affects the ligaments in the spine, which may lead to pain and instability. Therefore, you need to pay careful attention to your posture during pregnancy as you are more prone to back problems.
  • If you are pregnant, you may have pelvic girdle pain (PGP). The pelvic girdle refers to the bone structure that supports the legs, hip joints, and other surrounding joints. Anyone can experience PGP. But when you are pregnant, the cause of PGP is often changing in the structure of the pelvic girdle due to the effects of the hormone relaxin. Relaxin and other hormones can make the pelvic girdle ligaments lose, which can cause pain in the pelvic joints.
  • During pregnancy, when your muscles lose due to the effects of hormones like Relaxin, you are at greater risk for injury. You can wear your muscles and even risk falling.

 For example, you can be working on yoga postures or stretching exercises that enhance flexibility, but due to losing your ligaments, you risk over-stretching your various joints and muscles. Therefore, it is best to stick to stability-enhancing exercises as per your doctor’s recommendations.

 The hormone relaxin can make you shaky or unstable during pregnancy. But it is necessary to make the birth process easier. Therefore, take extra care of your posture during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters, when Relaxin is at its peak in your body.

 5.   hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)

What is the hCG hormone?

The hCG hormone, or the so-called human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, is a hormone that is synthesized and secreted by the placenta. It is widely used in pregnancy examination, whether at home examination or laboratory blood test, to detect pregnancy.

What role does the hCG hormone play in pregnancy?

The hCG hormone is necessary for the stability and continuation of pregnancy due to its important role in the following processes during the different stages of pregnancy:

  • Stimulation of the secretion of the hormone progesterone by the corpus luteum.
  • Contribute to the growth and expansion of the uterus as the fetus grows.
  • The formation of new blood vessels in the womb.
  • Growth of the umbilical cord.
  • Differentiation of the cytotrophoblast.
  • Suppressing the mother’s immune system to prevent it from attacking the fetus’s cells.
  • The growth and development of the fetus’s organs.

When does HCG hormone appear in the blood?

The secretion of the HCG hormone begins after fertilization of the egg, specifically after implantation of the egg in the lining of the uterus, where it begins its journey to the uterus on a ninth day. Then, the presence of the HCG hormone can be detected about a week after fertilization of the egg, and its levels double every 72 hours, then the time increases.

 It needs to double to 96 hours, reach a maximum between 8-11 weeks of pregnancy, and then start to fall. Therefore, the HCG level in the blood may be low in some cases, despite a normal pregnancy.

 The production of the pregnancy hormone, known as HCG, begins from the placenta immediately after the fertilization of the egg. The hormone, in turn, stimulates the ovaries to produce the necessary levels of estrogen and progesterone to stabilize the pregnancy.

 The HCG hormone is of great importance during pregnancy, and the importance of the pregnancy hormone is as follows:

  • Preserving the yellow body contributes to the secretion of the hormone progesterone necessary to enrich the uterine lining and increase the thickness of its vascular wall, thus enhancing its ability to nourish the fetus in the early stages of pregnancy.
  • Suppressing the mother’s immune system, thus protecting the fetus in the first months of pregnancy.
  • Clinically, pregnancy hormone is used to stimulate ovulation in the ovaries in females, while in males, it is used to stimulate the secretion of the male hormone testosterone.

 How is the HCG hormone tested?

The presence of the HCG hormone is detected through a urine test for pregnancy or by a blood test. In a home pregnancy test, it is the HCG hormone that causes the two pregnancy lines to appear on the screening machine.

It is worth noting that a home urine pregnancy test is not accurate compared to a blood test, as it is not possible to know the level of the HCG hormone through it with high accuracy. For example, if the test was done early, the urine test could give a false-negative result, so you should be careful before performing the pregnancy test.

 When performing a pregnancy test, the following things must be observed:

  • The best time for a blood pregnancy test or a hormonal pregnancy analysis is after fertilization of the egg a week, that’s a week or 5 days before the date of the period, but the most accurate is to wait until the date of the period.
  • A home pregnancy test can detect the presence of the HCG hormone in your urine 12-14 days after fertilization of the egg.
  • In the blood test for pregnancy, the presence of the HCG hormone can be detected 11 days after conception.
  • Pregnancy does not appear in the urine analysis a week before the period is due, but it can appear even before the onset of pregnancy symptoms in the blood analysis.
  • For more accurate results, it is recommended to repeat the pregnancy test several days apart.
  • There are two types of pregnancy tests, namely: the specific pregnancy test, which detects the presence or absence of the HCG hormone, and the quantitative pregnancy test, which detects the levels of the HCG hormone in the blood.

What is the percentage of HCG hormone in the blood?

The HCG hormone levels in the blood undergo many changes during the months of pregnancy, as they rise dramatically in weeks 12-14 of pregnancy, and double at the beginning of pregnancy every 72 hours, until they reach their peak between weeks 8-11, and then begin to decline gradually.

 The degree of high hormone levels in early pregnancy gives information about pregnancy and the health of the fetus, and the hormone disappears from the blood after birth.

  • The pregnancy test is considered positive, meaning there is pregnancy if the level of the HCG hormone in the blood is more than 25 units/ml.
  • The pregnancy test is considered negative, meaning there is no pregnancy if the HCG hormone level in the blood is less than 5 units/ml.
  • Pregnancy is re-examined to confirm whether there is pregnancy or not if the level of HCG hormone in the blood is between 5 – 25 units/ml.
  • Ultrasound appears when HCG hormone levels reach 1000-2000 units/ml.
  • In a mono-twin pregnancy, the HCG hormone is high. The hormone is secreted at lower levels if the egg implants occur other than the uterus, such as the fallopian tubes in an ectopic pregnancy.

 What happens when the level of the HCG hormone rises and falls?

It is normal for the hormone level to rise as the fetus grows, and it doubles every two or three days. As the pregnancy continues, the time it takes for the HCG hormone levels to double increases, up to four days.

  •  If the hormone levels drop rapidly, this may indicate an expectation of a miscarriage, or that a miscarriage has already occurred, or the presence of a damaged ovum (Blighted Ovum), the calculation of the gestational age is inaccurate.
  • In some cases, the pregnancy may be normal, and the child is healthy even with a low level of the HCG hormone, so the ultrasound examination is more accurate in knowing the health of the fetus.
  • When there are abnormal levels of the HCG hormone, such as taking a long period to double or be below the normal level, this may indicate the presence of an ectopic pregnancy.

 In contrast, an excessively high level of HCG hormone may result from:

  • Calculating the gestational age is inaccurate.
  • A molar pregnancy.
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • Some types of cancer, such as lung, breast, and kidney cancer.

What is the HCG hormone ratio when you are pregnant with twins?

If it is very high, the HCG hormone level can reveal the presence of multiple pregnancies such as twins, where the results of the pregnancy hormone in mothers who are pregnant with twins are 30-50% more than that of expectant mothers with one child.

 What is the percentage of HCG hormone after ICSI?

Pregnancy analysis is usually ordered 14 days after the embryos are returned to ensure the ICSI is successful. If the result is positive, an ultrasound test should be done after two weeks, but after making sure that the HCG hormone does not rise for reasons other than pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy in tubes.

 What are the reasons for not showing the HCG hormone in the blood test?

In some cases, the analysis of the HCG hormone may give a false negative result, that is, the pregnancy may exist without the HCG hormone appearing in the blood at positive levels, due to some factors such as:

  • Do the analysis sooner than you should.
  • The use of an inaccurate test cannot detect the HCG hormone if it is low.

On the other hand, some cases lead to a false-positive test result, meaning that the levels of the HCG hormone may be high without the presence of a real pregnancy, and among these cases:

  • Having some types of cancer, such as breast cancer or lung cancer.
  • Some medications contain the HCG hormone.

When does HCG hormone appear in urine?

A home pregnancy test can be done through the use of a urine sample. If pregnancy is present, the HCG hormone appears in the urine test a day after the absence of a menstrual period. The pregnancy hormone rises in the blood immediately after pregnancy and continues for the first 8-10 weeks to rise because it is excreted With urine.

The best time to take a home pregnancy test is in the first sample in the early morning. This sample contains a concentrated percentage of the hormone to facilitate the examination process. One of the most important steps that must be followed to obtain an accurate examination is to follow the following:

Read the accompanying test instructions before collecting the urine sample.

  • Ensure that the test is not expired.
  • Use the first urine sample in the morning.
  • Refrain from drinking large quantities of fluids before collecting the urine sample because it reduces the concentration of the HCG hormone level and is difficult to recognize.
  • If the result is negative, the examination can be repeated after a week from the date of the first examination.
  • In case of suspicion of pregnancy, a doctor can be consulted for a thorough medical examination.

6.   Prolactin

What is the Prolactin hormone?

The hormone prolactin is known as the milk hormone, and it is the hormone that controls the production and regulation of milk in mammals. It is found in the body of men and women alike, but its percentage in a woman’s body is greater than that of men to match the nature of her body subject to pregnancy and lactation, noting that it has many Other jobs.

What role does the Prolactin hormone play in pregnancy?

In the first months that a woman breastfeeds, prolactin levels are high as they work to suppress ovulation. Thus, women who breastfeed may go through a period of menopause, which leads to a decrease in the chance of pregnancy in that period.

However, with time, the level of the hormone prolactin decreases, and ovulation returns to a normal level. High prolactin is usually diagnosed when a test is performed to measure the hormone prolactin level in the blood, and prolactin levels in non-pregnant women over 20-25 (ng/ml) are considered high.

The prolactin hormone may be elevated in some patients without symptoms of high prolactin, but the diagnosis is usually made after the presence of several symptoms, including:

  • Sterility
  • Irregular menstruation.

If there are daily differences in the levels of the hormone in the blood, it may be necessary to repeat the test. 

How does high milk hormone prevent pregnancy?

There is a relationship between high prolactin hormone and pregnancy. High prolactin hormone may cause infertility in non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding women, so the prolactin hormone level should be relatively low.

If there is a relationship between high prolactin and pregnancy, then this occurs in several ways, including:

  • The hormone prolactin stops ovulation as a result of inhibiting the secretion of the FSH hormone, and thus the woman’s menstrual cycle stops.
  • High levels of prolactin may cause intermittent ovulation in less severe cases, so a woman’s menstrual cycle is irregular and severely interrupted.
  • In milder cases, ovulation may occur regularly, but due to the high prolactin hormone, the level of the hormone progesterone decreases after ovulation. Thus the endometrium becomes less able to implant the fetus.

7.   Estrogen

What is estrogen hormone?

It is a female hormone secreted by the ovary that affects the development and function of the female reproductive system. Estrogens consist of the asteroid that contains 18 carbon atoms linked to a hydroxyl group (which are chemical compounds consisting of oxygen and hydrogen) to form an aromatic ring, and three types of estrogens differ according to the number of hydroxyl groups they contain :

  • Estrone (E1): This is a relatively weak estrogen with one hydroxyl group.
  • Estradiol (E1): It is the most important estrogen and the strongest in structure and contains two hydroxyl groups.
  • Estriol (Estriol-E3): This is a very weak estrogen, contains three hydroxyl groups, and is excreted by the placenta in large quantities during pregnancy.

The pituitary gland secretes luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which control the ovarian secretion of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

What role does estrogen hormone play in pregnancy?

The corpus luteum begins to generate large amounts of estrogen and progesterone when ovulation occurs to prepare the uterus and allow the implantation of a fertilized egg.

When pregnancy occurs, estrogen levels continue to rise to stimulate muscle mass growth and blood supply to the uterus. Progesterone levels also rise to keep the uterus calm and prevent premature contractions of the uterine muscle.

The high levels of estrogen and progesterone work to suppress the release of hormones (FSH and LH), which prevents menstruation and ovulation in pregnancy.

The role of the corpus luteum becomes secondary at the beginning of the third month of pregnancy, and the placenta takes the role of producing sufficient amounts of estrogen and progesterone to ensure the normal continuation of pregnancy.

8.   HPL (human placental lactogen)

What is the HPL hormone?

Human placental lactogen is a hormone that is naturally secreted from the placenta at the beginning of the fifth week of pregnancy, and its secretion gradually increases until the birth of the fetus. The human placental dairy stimulator falls under the peptide hormones.

It has a molecular weight of 38000 and is similar in composition The composition of growth hormone. However, its functions are uncertain, it has been found that the amount of its secretion exceeds the amount of secretion of all other pregnancy hormones, and it has an important role and influence on the health and development of the fetus.

What role does the HPL hormone play in pregnancy?

  • It contributes to partial breast growth and, in some cases, stimulates lactation. Because this function is the first function of this hormone that was discovered during animal experiments, it was called the human milk stimulating hormone.
  • This hormone has a similar effect to that of growth hormone on the body, and its composition is similar to that of growth hormone, so it promotes growth.
  • This hormone affects protein metabolism. This hormone’s main role is to stimulate the growth of protein tissues by reducing the mother’s use of proteins and making amino acids available to the fetus.
  • This hormone reduces the sensitivity of the mother’s body cells to insulin, which reduces the amount of glucose that the mother’s cells take and thus increases the amount of glucose that reaches the fetus. It also stimulates the release of fats stored in the mother’s body to provide an alternative energy source for the mother.

HPL hormone level

This hormone is not present in the body until there is a pregnancy. This hormone begins to gradually rise in the pregnant woman’s blood, reaching its highest value in the last period of pregnancy, that is, before childbirth. Doctors request to check its level in the blood to make sure of the safety of the fetus, and the normal value of this hormone varies according to the age of the fetus, and its normal values ​​are as follows:

  • Pregnancy, weeks 5-7: greater than 1.0 mcg / mL.
  • Pregnancy week 8-27: greater than 4.6 mcg/ml.
  • Pregnancy week 28-31: Above 6 mcg / mL.
  • Pregnancy at week 32-35: higher than 7.7 μg / ml.
  • Pregnancy for more than 36 weeks: greater than 10 mcg/ml.

Interpretation of HPL test results

This examination is performed for the pregnant woman to ensure the safety of the fetus and the mother. It is often performed if the pregnant woman has high blood pressure. If the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus is low, and if the ultrasound examination shows a problem in the growth of the fetus, and if the examination is performed, the results show an increased value or its decrease will indicate a problem with the mother or the fetus.

 Its high level indicates that:

  • Having diabetes.
  • Liver cancer.
  • Lymphoma.
  • Bronchial cancer.

As for its lower value than the normal limit, it indicates the following:

  • There is a high risk of miscarriage.
  • Having problems in fetal development.
  • A molar pregnancy.
  • Toxemia in pregnancy.

9.   Oxytocin

What is the Oxytocin hormone?

It is a hormone and a neurotransmitter secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain, and its levels are higher in females than in males. It is called the love hormone, and it plays a role in female reproductive functions from sexual activity to childbirth and breastfeeding.

What role does the Oxytocin hormone play in pregnancy?

No one can be sure how a natural birth can begin, but it often begins as a response to the full growth of the fetus on the one hand and the health and psychological state of the mother’s body on the other hand.

Here comes the role of the hormone oxytocin in pregnancy, whose levels in the blood increase significantly during the birth process, increasing the contractions of the uterus, and its secretion also continues during the period of intensive breastfeeding in both the body of the mother and the child and its role is as follows:

  • It stimulates uterine contractions, which in turn stimulate the expansion of the cervix.
  • Facilitates the secretion of breast milk. It strengthens the mother-child bond.
  • It stimulates the feeling of motherhood right after birth.
  • It is produced in abundance as a reaction to a nursing baby.
  • It reduces postpartum blood as its levels rise due to breastfeeding, which stimulates uterine contractions that work to close blood vessels.
  • Helps heal the placenta in the womb.

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