Understanding Women’s Sex Hormones and How They Affect Arousal

Understanding Women’s Sex Hormones and How They Affect Arousal

The SMSNA periodically receives and publishes ‘guest editorials.’ The current article was submitted by Mia Barnes, a freelance writer and researcher who specializes in women's health, wellness, and healthy living. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine.

Your hormones can influence things large and small, including something as crucial as your mood. When your body doesn't produce enough of one, it can throw things off drastically. You may experience side effects ranging from depression to unexplained weight loss or weight gain. Knowing how your sex hormones can regulate your libido can help you better understand yourself overall.

What Are Women's Sex Hormones?

The sex hormones are classified as "male" and "female," but everyone has some of each hormone. These allow several processes within your body to function as they should. Being able to tell when you have an imbalance can help you take steps to live a better life.

The three women's sex hormones you should know about are:

  • Estrogen: The most well-known women's sex hormone can affect huge things — like the brain and cardiovascular system — to smaller things — like hair and skin — while playing a major role in significant changes like puberty and pregnancy.
  • Testosterone: This hormone helps regulate the menstrual cycle and possibly sexual desire.
  • Progesterone: The ovaries produce this hormone after ovulation. It helps support pregnancy and prepares the uterus for fertilization.

Hormones are delicately balanced and their imbalance can link to several hormone-related conditions. With a sex hormone imbalance, you might notice something as small as a bit more acne or more severe side effects, like irregular periods or even infertility.

A hormonal imbalance should be dealt with as soon as you notice it. Your health care professional can walk you through the treatment you need to get back on track.

How Hormones Affect Arousal

Women's sex hormones can also influence arousal, including how often you feel it. Depending on your menstrual cycle, you may notice a difference in your arousal frequency.

Your libido will peak around ovulation, though that may not be the case if you're using birth control. A higher estrogen level typically means a higher level of sexual desire, which is why you may notice your libido fluctuating throughout your menstrual cycle. It could indicate your body is ready for reproduction and pregnancy.

Lowered estrogen and testosterone might affect your sex drive. However, using testosterone to treat low sex drive typically doesn't work for women. Decreased estrogen can cause conditions like strokes and osteoporosis due to loss of bone density.

While these hormones can affect arousal, they also keep your entire body functioning. If you feel like you're experiencing an imbalance, talk with your doctor about how to correct it so you can live your best possible life.

Know the Roles Your Hormones Play Over Time

As you age, your hormonal needs shift and change to fit your current stage of life. Transitioning into pregnancy and breastfeeding can change your hormones dramatically, as can menopause. 

Some imbalances go beyond libido and can negatively affect your body as a whole. While your hormones may fluctuate constantly, you must address any imbalances immediately.


Female Sex Hormones: Types, Effect on Arousal, and 8 Other Functi. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/female-sex-hormones

Cleveland Clinic. Hormonal imbalance: Causes, symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Published April 4, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance

Female sex hormones: Types, roles, and effect on arousal. www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324887

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