Hormones: Molecules of Emotion

The human menstrual cycle is a dynamic process.  The sex hormones, estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, dramatically affect a women’s emotional state and her sexual desire. At ovulation time, often a women’s dreams change, her thoughts can become libidinous and her overall emotional state more heightened.  From an evolutionary stance, sensitivity at ovulation can be seen as a physical response mechanism to identify and protect a woman from persons and environments that might endanger an implantation.  

Mood swings can often occur in response to withdrawal of hormones during a cycle.  Candice Pert believes and defends in her book Molecules of Emotion, that hormones are emotions and vice versa.  Indeed if women do experience shifts in hormone balance, as they do every month, often emotional change can also be observed.  Pert claims that all emotions are linked to a type of subjective observation that originates in bimolecular changes in the endocrine system.   More specifically, in the biochemicals that act as messengers or hormones.  

Estrogen, testosterone and progesterone profoundly affect mood, especially sexual mood.  Men and women treated for medical conditions that require the administration of one or the other of these hormones routinely report psychic fluctuations, increased libido, and vivid sexual dreams.  If we accept Pert’s premise that, in one sense, emotions are hormones, what, then is the effect on a women’s mental disposition of sudden withdrawal of estrogen and progesterone that occurs premenstrual?  When estrogen and progesterone levels perform their monthly sky dive, a women’s testosterone level rises dramatically, relatively speaking, even though its serum concentration barely changes.  (Shlain, 2002, pg 157)