Pregnancy is one of the phases in a woman’s life during which multiple hormonal changes take place. These fluctuations are bound to cause some discomfort and give rise to a number of distressing symptoms. However, there is really no need to panic in such cases as these complaints are transient and the woman’s condition usually normalizes on its own. This is what happens within various endocrine organs when a woman becomes pregnant.
Estradiol, the main form of estrogen, is known to be synthesized in large amounts during pregnancy. Its production requires contributions from the mother, placenta, and fetus. A sudden drop in the level of this hormone may indicate some complications. Progesterone is another female hormone that is most essential for continuation of pregnancy as it is responsible for the maintenance of the uterine lining. This hormone is produced by the corpus luteum in the initial 7 weeks of pregnancy. Later, this function is taken over by the placenta.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is basically a peptide hormone that is produced by the trophoblastic cells of the placenta. Its increased level in the bloodstream or urine is in fact an indicator of pregnancy. The kits to detect pregnancy at home, available in the market, basically detect the presence of this hormone to give a positive result. The action of HCG is very similar to Luteinizing hormone (LH), which maintains the corpus luteum. If the level of HCG is lower than what is expected in relation to the dates, an abortion or ectopic pregnancy should first be ruled out.
If the level is much higher, this may indicate the presence of more than one fetus in the womb. It may also suggest that the unborn child is suffering from Down syndrome. This can also happen in case the pregnancy progresses to form a hydatiform mole, in which the chorionic villi around the fetus undergo degeneration, so as to form clusters of fluid-filled sacs that look like a bunch of grapes. The fetus usually does not survive in such cases.
During pregnancy, the thyroid gland enlarges a bit and the basal metabolic rate (BMR) of the body also increases. In some women, pregnancy may trigger hypothyroidism. In such cases, the levels of the thyroid hormones should be monitored throughout the pregnancy and these would-be mothers should be promptly treated. If neglected, the risk of giving birth to a mentally retarded child increases significantly. Levels of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland, rise throughout pregnancy. In fact, that is one of the reasons why some women also develop gestational diabetes.
The hormone prolactin is secreted in large amounts by the pituitary gland of a pregnant woman to prepare her body for lactation. This causes engorgement of the breasts and stimulates milk production.Relaxing is a hormone produced by the corpus luteum or ovary, which causes relaxation of the pelvic joints and muscles so as to accommodate the growing uterus. The parathyroid glands also try their level best to do a balancing act in order to ensure that both mother and child have adequate amounts of calcium in their body.