Estrogen’s Dance Partner...
Fluctuating mood, irritability, pain, low energy, and poor sleep are symptoms commonly associated with PMS. It is important to look at hormone imbalances when addressing PMS, in particular, estrogen dominance
. These PMS related symptoms may also be a result of a more broad neuroendocrine dysfunction (HPAG axis). A beneficial compliment to hormone balancing would be to address any neurotransmitter imbalances.
The neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and GABA
play significant roles in regulating mood and general feelings of well being. The neuroendocrine connection to fluctuating moods during PMS is primarily through the estrogen/serotonin relationship1. Estrogen is an important serotonin agonist, and is necessary for serotonin production. There are estrogen receptors in various organs throughout the body including the brain.
When estrogen levels rise in the first week of menses,their overall effect includes an increase in the amount of serotonin available. Elevated serotonin then helps to improve mood. In this role, estrogen may, in fact, act as a natural antidepressant and mood stabilizer... as long as the body’s production and store of serotonin is adequate. The dance between ovarian hormones and brain chemistry will ultimately determine her menstrual cycle. The availability of serotonin can affect the degree of resulting mood fluctuations. If, for example, a woman has low levels of serotonin, the estrogen drop that occurs premenstrually may be all it takes to drop her serotonin level below the point of optimum functioning, putting her in a mood state that mysteriously vanishes as soon as her period starts and her estrogen levels rise again.
Why does this happen? Because serotonin needs estrogen for its metabolization in the brain. The two are a dynamic duo, functioning in tandem.
Estrogen’s Effects on Serotonin:
• Increases serotonin receptor sensitivity
• Increases serotonin receptor levels
• Increases serotonin production
Additional Neuro-Endocrine Factors
Estrogen is also a dopamine modulator, and low dopamine, in conjunction with low serotonin, can impact focus and cognitive function in addition to influencing mood and pain symptoms.Low progesterone also plays a key role in the monthly cycle.
Progesterone is a GABA agonist2,3, and correctly balanced GABA is important for stress management and in maintaining a balanced mood. The rise and fall of progesterone in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle will influence GABA levels4, although not quite to the extent of estrogen’s influence on serotonin. Norepinephrine is an excitatory neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in managing anxiety, irritability, and emotional balance. Reduction in serotonin
levels commonly associated with declining adrenal function can cause a rise in norepinephrine, which contributes to increased irritability.Addressing neurotransmitter imbalances is a beneficial compliment to hormone therapies for managing menstrual cycle symptoms. Simple noninvasive urinary testing helps to identify the specific imbalances. Test panels are available for ordering
both urinary neurotransmitters and salivary hormones together.
Related Neurotransmitter Articles
Health Disclaimer: All information given about health conditions, treatments, products and dosages are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This is provided only as a suggested guideline.
1. Amin, Z., Canli, T., Epperson, C.N., 2005. Effect of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Modd and Cognition. Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev 2005 4:43, 50-51
2. Shi, Q., Roldan, E.R., 1995. Evidence that a GABAA-like receptor is involved in progesterone-induced acrosomal exocytosis in mouse spermatozoa. doi: 10.1095/ biolreprod52.2.373 Biology of Reproduction February 1, 1995 vol. 52 no. 2 373-381
3. Bitran, D., Hilvers, R.J., Kellogg, C.L., 1991. Anxiolytic effects of 3a-hydroxy-5a[b]-pregnan-20-one: endogenous metabolites of progesterone that are active at the GABAA receptor. Brain Research, Volume 561, Issue 1, 4 October 1991, Pages 157–161
4. Kaura V, et al. The progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone potentiates GABAa receptor-mediated inhibition of 5-ht neuronal activity. Eur Neuropsychopharm. 2007; 17: 108-15.
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