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Hormones released during pregnancy and their effect on women

 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Pregnancy is a complex process that comes with the secretion and change in levels of various hormones in the human body. These hormones ensure the pregnancy journey is normal and danger-free throughout the nine-month period.

Throughout pregnancy, hormones shift like a rollercoaster and this in return can have many effects on the woman.

Below are some of the major hormones produced during pregnancy and the effects they have on your body.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

hCG is produced during the earliest stages of pregnancy and is the hormone detected by pregnancy tests. This hormone is produced by the placenta after implantation and its levels double after every two days hence its key use in detecting pregnancies.

The role of hCG is to keep the corpus luteum functioning, to continue the production of hormones estrogen and progesterone. The corpus luteum is a hormone secreting structure found in the ovaries.

hCG ultimately prevents the production of another egg after pregnancy and basically prepares the woman’s body to prepare for the baby. Due to the rising levels of hCG in the body during pregnancy, hCG causes what is commonly known as morning sickness.

A side effect of hCG is a dry mouth. Thus, expectant mothers need to hydrate often and moisturize their lips to prevent chapping.

 (Photo: Shutterstock)


Progesterone hormone plays a vital role in keeping the body immune system aware of the foreign body (foetus) growing during pregnancy and also keeps the uterus relaxed and assists the uterine wall to thicken.

Progesterone has many effects on the human body during pregnancy. It makes your hair grow faster than usual and you might notice hair in weird areas like your tummy and around the areola. Progesterone is also useful in breast development and breastfeeding.


The placenta produces oestrogen later in the pregnancy. Oestrogen ensures the uterine wall is thick enough for the foetus and that blood circulation is maintained. It also assists in the production of other key pregnancy hormones. Other than that, it also instigates growth of the foetus, the development of limbs and organs.

Some of the effects of oestrogen on the woman include darkening of the skin. Most women will notice their areola growing darker too and the black line that runs down your belly also grows darker.

The good news is that all these changes are reversible approximately six weeks after childbirth.

Human placental lactogen (hPL)

Human placental lactogen (hPL) is produced by the placenta during the pregnancy process. hPL is in charge of providing the foetus with a healthy environment to grow as well as providing nutrition. This hormone also stimulates milk glands in preparation of the breastfeeding process.

This hormone also helps the body to build resistance to the hormone insulin during pregnancy hence allowing the availability of glucose which provides nutrition to the foetus.

Presence of this hormone could result in gestational diabetes. Thus it is important to monitor your sugar levels throughout your pregnancy.

During the whole pregnancy journey, it is advisable to eat healthy foods to maintain a healthy weight. Regular exercises and constantly hydrating can help prevent your blood sugar levels from rising.

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