(And hormones men share with them) Women produce testosterone without testicles. (DUH!) A woman's sex hormones are produced starting at the adrenal glands and ovaries. Through a series of conversion enzyme pathways (chemicals that alter the molecular structure of other chemicals) their bodies synthesize the necessary sex, Glucocorticoid, and Mineralocorticoid steroids.
Mineralocorticoid hormones like Aldosterone regulate mineral balances such as electrolytes and their corresponding water retention and release. Aldosterone is responsible to a great extent for the bloated look and edemas women experience during menstruation. Aldosterone release is significantly affected by other hormones such as estrogens. High estrogen levels result in high aldosterone levels, which in turn result in high water retention.
Glucocorticoid steroids are catabolic (tissue wasting) steroids which break down predominantly damaged tissues for repair and subsequent reuse. The catabolized tissues can be reused as an energy source, or as a source of amino acids (proteins) for assimilation into new tissue. Yes, this Borg-like hormone class will assimilate healthy muscle tissue also to maintain homeostasis (a balance between building and tearing down). The main glucocorticoid steroid hormone focused upon for this book long discussion is cortisol due to the fact that it has a profound catabolic effect upon muscle tissue. Before you think, "Why don't muscleheads just stop all cortisol synthesis somehow and be the next Mr. or Ms. Olympia ?", let me explain. Their intent is to regulate, not stop, cortisol production. Tissue can not be rebuilt or made bigger and stronger unless it is first damaged and cleared of the waste products created. Cortisol aids in this metabolic process. Without it, anabolic (tissue building) hormones and chemicals would greatly lose their effects (and immune systems would fail to work adequately). So their goal is to allow enough cortisol for proper catabolism and immune function, but not so much as to allow catabolism to become dominant over anabolism. Cortisol activity can also be controlled site-specifically, but that is a complete different issue. Both men and women endogenously (naturally occurring in the body) synthesize mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid steroids.
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