The changes that happen don’t all occur in one day when it comes to hormones.
That’s the first bit of news. Changes can subtle and gradual or there can be sudden surges of activity and it can feel as if overnight there’s a new person in the house.
Someone once bold has become more self-conscious or the quiet and cautious one is suddenly loud and clumsy.
A lot of what’s driving these changes is an increase in the sex hormones and while the information they deliver is not new to your teenager’s body it is now arriving in larger doses.
Growth is never a smooth journey. If we look to plants we can see that it occurs in fits and starts – growth spurts also need support nutritionally and you might notice that teen skin for instance is worse after a growth spurt then settles down.
The second bit of news is that we all need some of all of the sex hormones, just in different amounts, so it can help to understand some of their roles.
Understanding the role of sex hormones
It might come as a surprise that girls need testosterone too – it’s associated with ambition, with moving into the world, with risk-taking, making your mark. Classically we rather politely say it deepens the voice in boys but it does so much more. A rise in testosterone levels as infants aged 9 months is what gets us all crawling.
Testosterone is a big driver for the libido and surges can play havoc in all of us. Too much for a girl might be responsible for skin problems, aggressiveness and period problems. Surges of testosterone in boys can show up as risk taking, loud talk and big gestures.
The desire to be noticed and make your mark might show up as a need to ‘tag’. Is it what’s behind graffiti? I’m currently exploring this aspect of being human. Being known for something is a very human trait but mark marking actually has its roots in mammalian behaviour – ‘I was here.’
Our hormones are very interesting when we look at them in terms of archetypes.
Oestrogen is the hormone that initiates menstruation in puberty. It’s most present in the first half of the female menstrual cycle and brings us to ovulation and being fertile.
In a pregnant women progesterone is the dominant hormone as it tones the muscle of the uterus, literally ‘holding the baby’ but it’s oestrogen that kicks in at the end of pregnancy to start labour. If we think of oestrogen as an initiator, does even a start up project need the traits of oestrogen?
Oestrogen has a role in building body fat so that we have enough reserves to survive a pregnancy in lean times – we are not so far away from more primitive times in terms of evolution.
These days oestrogen can be a factor in too much body fat for both girls and boys. Even something as simple as eating organic meat and dairy to reduce our exposure to synthetic hormones in the food chain can make a difference.
We all have progesterone receptor sites in the brain and studies show that irregularities in these receptor sites are associated with ADD and ADHD. Progesterone has a role in clear thinking, learning from past mistakes and making a plan. Keeping blood sugar stable with regular meals, hydration and taking an Epsom Salt bath or using a magnesium spray oil after showering will help establish progesterone.
For girls, progesterone is the hormone that completes the 2nd half of the menstrual cycle and imbalances can lead to problems with PMS or PMT, pain and heavy bleeding.
Making hormones requires a good nutrition base and that can often seem like the last thing the teenage brain wants to hear from a parent. Having good quality fats and salt in the house, filtering our water, supporting digestive health through diet and encouraging good blood sugar balance by not going without food for too long is a good place to start.
Social Media – it’s not all negative.
Lastly, there is a big change since we adults were teenagers and that is Social Media, but it’s not all negative.
Teens are listening in to TikTok and gathering information so if they’re listening to advice on Lions Mane mushrooms for focus and concentration offer to explore the information with them. Take it as a lead to learn something together and instil some discerning research skills along the way.
You can download my ‘6 Tips for Teen Hormone Health’ here