Female hormones: A guide on hormone health for women

August 21, 2023

Your hormones and hormone levels affect your entire body and its functions. And they don’t just impact things like skin health and hair strength. They also act as guides for your body’s development from puberty to menopause and everything in between, including the entire pregnancy journey.


Specifically, your hormones help relay messages from organs that affect many bodily functions, including your metabolism and mood. Keeping your hormone levels balanced helps maintain these bodily functions. And, like the rest of your body, your hormones change over time.


Hormones are essential for your health, and even minor fluctuations in their levels can impact your health and alter how you feel. That’s why it’s important to stay in the know by regularly testing your hormone levels.


Key hormones and their functions



Estrogen refers to a group of hormones that play a big role in your development over your lifetime. Estrogen levels first rise during puberty and begin to decline during perimenopause, the stage leading up to menopause. They also fluctuate throughout your lifetime, significantly affecting the menstrual cycle.


Estrogen helps regulate important functions throughout the body, affecting things like cholesterol and blood sugar levels, circulation, muscle mass and even brain function.


If you’ve got an estrogen imbalance, you may experience certain symptoms such as irregular or absent periods. You may also experience painful sex, hot flashes, weight gain, fatigue, moodiness and frequent headaches.


If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, or if you are under 40 and experiencing irregular or missed periods, testing your estrogen levels can help identify imbalances. Shop the Women's Fertility Ovarian Reserve Test


If you are over 40 and experiencing irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings and additional symptoms, our test can help you find out if your symptoms may be related to menopause. Shop the Menopause Test



Luteinizing hormone (LH)

Your reproductive system relies on the teamwork between LH and FSH to release a mature egg during the menstrual cycle. FSH helps the eggs mature, and LH helps manage the menstrual cycle and release mature eggs for fertilization.

LH levels change regularly, spiking highest just before you ovulate, making LH an important hormone to monitor if you want to conceive. Tracking LH over time can help you determine your fertile window, or the time you’re most likely to get pregnant.


High LH levels outside of the normal surge that occurs during your period could mean decreased ovarian reserve, PCOS or menopause (as LH levels rise as you age). LH is often tested with FSH to help find the cause of infertility, irregular periods or missed periods.


Low LH levels can suggest malnutrition or issues with your pituitary gland, where LH is produced.


 You may seek LH testing if you:


  • Are having difficulty conceiving
  • Have irregular periods or your periods have stopped
  • Want to know if you’re in menopause


Testing for hormones like LH helps you and your healthcare provider get a clearer picture of what’s going on with your body’s hormone production. Because a healthy balance of hormones is needed, it’s important to screen.


If you are over 40 and experiencing irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings and additional symptoms, our test can help you find out if your symptoms may be related to menopause. Shop the Menopause Test




Progesterone is one of the main reproductive hormones and helps regulate menstruation and supports early stages of pregnancy. Progesterone is one of the main reproductive hormones and has several important functions including regulating menstruation and supporting early stages of pregnancy.  


Progesterone levels vary during the menstrual cycle, rising after ovulation and continues to rise if pregnancy occurs. Like estrogen, progesterone levels begin to decline with the onset of menopause.


If you’re experiencing low levels of progesterone, you might also have:


  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Mood changes
  • Hot flashes
  • Fatigue


As these symptoms overlap with other hormonal imbalance symptoms, screening for your progesterone levels is important. The Labcorp OnDemand Menopause Test helps screen for four hormones associated with menopause, including progesterone. Shop the Menopause Test




Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) regulates how much thyroid hormone your body produces. These thyroid hormones affect your body’s use of energy, so they are important to nearly every part of your body. They regulate your heart, digestion, temperature, weight, brain development, mood and metabolism—just to name a few.


According to the American Thyroid Association, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid issues. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), can cause fertility problems, so women who have difficulty with getting pregnant often get tested for thyroid problems.


Too high or too low levels of TSH can impact your health. So, it’s important to get a clear picture of your thyroid health.


If you’re experiencing low TSH levels, you may also be noticing:


  • Rapid heartbeat/palpitations
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Vision changes
  • Thin, warm and moist skin
  • Irregular menstrual cycles


If you’re experiencing high TSH levels, you may also be noticing:


  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Numbness in the hands
  • Constipation
  • Depression or changes in mood
  • Feeling cold
  • Dry skin
  • Low sex drive
  • Frequent and heavy menstrual cycles

Speak with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. Your provider can order a thyroid test, or you can purchase a thyroid test yourself through Labcorp OnDemand. Results from these tests can help you and your provider determine the care you need. Shop the Standard Thyroid Test



Being proactive about your hormone health

Wherever you are on your health journey, Labcorp is here for you. If you are ready to learn more about your hormone levels, explore Labcorp OnDemand to purchase a test on your own with testing options that allow you to perform sample collection at home or at a local Labcorp location. We offer a variety of screenings and tests—from general wellness to menopause—that help you feel more empowered with health information and your provider have proactive conversations about your health.