What Are Prostaglandins?

The human body runs on a delicate balance of hormones, neurotransmitters and physiologically active substances that regulate the process of life. One of the most important of the physiologically active substances are prostaglandins that appear in almost every cell in the body. But what exactly do they do? Let’s run through the role prostaglandins play in the female body.

What are prostaglandins?

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More accurately, we should be asking, “What are prostaglandins?” Prostaglandins exist in many organs and tissues in the body, and fulfil a wide range of functions. Some of their major tasks include lowering blood pressure and inducing contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles. They’re also a key part of the body’s response to injury and illness, triggering reactions like swelling and pain.

Prostaglandins get their name from the fact they were first discovered in semen – ergo, from the prostate gland. However, prostaglandins are important for men and women alike.

What are functions of prostaglandin in the menstrual cycle?

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Prostaglandin production ebbs and flows along with the menstrual cycle, and it’s an essential part of the process. Prostaglandins are released each month from the endometrium lining of the uterus. This triggers contractions of the uterus to help the lining come loose and bleed out in the menstrual period.

Prostaglandins also have effects of causing inflammation and increasing sensitivity to pain. When excess prostaglandins are produced before a period, they can also reach the bloodstream, worsening the feelings of headache, back pain, fatigue and nausea that sometimes go along with PMS. On the flipside, lower prostaglandin levels are associated with less menstrual pain.

Prostaglandin for labor: E2 and F2-alpha

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There are more than ten categories of prostaglandin-based drugs in modern medical practice. In women’s health, though, the ones you’ll likely hear about are Prostaglandin E2 and F2-αlpha. Both of these prostaglandins trigger contractions, so they can be used to stimulate labor if necessary.

Prostaglandins help you in many ways!

Because of their connection to premenstrual symptoms, prostaglandins can be a real headache (and then some) for women. However, prostaglandins aren’t “bad” by any means. They are part of your body’s way of healing injury and keeping you out of harm’s way. Also, thanks to the role they play in childbirth, you might end up relying on them one day yourself!