How do your hormones work? - Emma Bryce - Deepstash

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The endocrine system causes changes in your body

The endocrine system causes changes in your body

Our bodies undergo many extraordinary metamorphoses over the course of our lives.

We grow, go into puberty, and many reproduce. Behind the scenes, the endocrine system works to arrange these changes. This system regulates everything from sleep to the rhythm of your heartbeat.

The endocrine system needs the interactions of three features to function:

  • Glands
  • Hormones
  • Trillions of cell receptors.

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Glands and hormones

Glands and hormones

You have hormone-producing glands in your body,

  • three in your brain,
  • seven in the rest of your body. 

Each is surrounded by a network of blood vessels from which they extract ingredients to make hormones. These are pumped out in tiny amounts into the bloodstream.

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Hormones and receptors

The hormones need to find a set of target cells to bring about a specific change.

Receptors - the special proteins inside or on the cell's surface - help hormones find their targets. The receptors recognise specific hormones as they move past and bind to them.

Once this happens, the hormone-receptor combination triggers effects that can increase or decrease specific processes inside the cell.

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The thyroid and the two hormones it produces

The thyroid and the two hormones it produces

The two thyroid hormones, namely triiodothyronine and thyroxine, travel to the body's cells and influence how quickly those cells work and use energy.

In turn, that regulates everything from breathing to heartbeat, body temperature, and digestion.

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Hormones during puberty

Hormones during puberty

Both men and women have estrogen and testosterone but in different amounts.

In men, puberty starts when the testes begin secreting testosterone. That triggers the development of the sexual organs and causes the voice to deepen.

In women, estrogen secreted from the ovaries helps the body develop, makes the hips widen and thickens the womb's lining to prepare for menstruation or pregnancy.

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Fluctuation of mood

Hormones can influence the production of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin.

When chemical levels change, they can cause the mood to change. That doesn't mean that hormones have unlimited power over us, but they often drive our behaviour and make us slaves to their effects, for example during puberty. However, the endocrine system regulates our bodily processes, it does not control us.

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Disrupting the regulatory function.

Disease, stress, and diet can disrupt the regulatory function, changing the way the cells respond, such as in diabetes.

  • Diabetes is a common hormonal disorder where the pancreas secretes too little insulin - the hormone that manages blood sugar levels. 
  • Hypo- and hyperthyroidism occur when the thyroid gland makes too little or too much thyroid hormone. Too little thyroid hormone cause a slowed heart rate, fatigue, and depression. Too much thyroid hormone causes weight loss, sleeplessness, and irritability. 

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