Did you know that your menstrual cycle could play a role in regulating your immune response? Your sex hormones are quite interconnected with immune health, and the fluctuations in hormone levels during your cycle could create changes in your immune system as well. Keep reading to learn about how your immune system is impacted by the different stages of reproductive health!
The role of estrogen in immune health
Through the cyclical fluctuations of your menstrual cycle, hormones such as estrogen are said to have an immune enhancing effect. In particular, estrogen stimulates the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes such as Caspase-12, so high levels of estrogen are generally associated with stronger immune health.
However, many experts contend that hormonal balance is more important than the actual hormone levels themselves. For example, even if your estrogen levels are low, you may not experience a poor immune response if it is balanced compared to the relative amount of progesterone in the body.
How your menstrual cycle regulates immune health
During specific phases of your menstrual cycle, variations in hormone levels can influence immune health as well.
- The Follicular Phase: The Follicular phase lasts from the first day of your cycle until ovulation. During this time, estrogen levels increase along with your immune response. As estrogen attaches to receptors on immune cells, the immune system increases the amount of antibodies and inflammatory response produced.
- The Early and Mid-Luteal Phase: During these phases of the cycle, immunosuppression and a decreased inflammatory response are more likely to occur. The increase in progesterone and especially testosterone is predicted to have immuno-suppressive effects.
While inflammation can create more symptoms for those that suffer from chronic diseases, a strong inflammatory response is key to reducing risk of infection and can improve muscle strength.
- The Late Luteal Phase and Menstruation: During these phases, it is common to see increased inflammation and worsening symptoms from chronic diseases.
Research predicts that this interaction between the immune system and menstrual cycle occurs to increase chances of pregnancy. By increasing immune health in the weeks leading up to ovulation, your body fights off infection to prepare for pregnancy. By decreasing inflammatory responses after ovulation, immune cells will be less likely to attack fertilized eggs.
How menopause impacts immune health
As people reach menopause, they are more likely to become immunosuppressed as estrogen deficiency is common. However, during pregnancy, the increase in estrogen and progesterone have been seen to reduce symptoms from diseases such as multiple sclerosis. If you’d like to know more about this topic or similar topics, reach out to you on instagram or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to research and provide you with information to make the best decisions for your body!