People have a nasty habit of equating hormones with a particular set of behaviors and conditions, most of which have to do with reproduction or sexual development or acts that include what my brother john has referred to as scootily pooping. For example people will say that hormones are why kevin has zits and is being all moody or why hannah who’s three months pregnant just cried watching a commercial for car insurance. Now i’m not saying that hormones aren’t at the root of sexual attraction or zits or occasional bouts of extreme emotion because they are, that’s just not all that they do, not even close, when people talk about hormones in the context that i just mentioned, what they really mean is sex hormones but sex hormones are just one kind of hormone that you have coursing through your body right now, in fact there are at least 50 different types of these chemical messengers at work in your body at this very minute but only a very few of them have anything at all to do with sex, the truth is from birth to death just about every cell and function in your body is under your hormones constant influence, they’re floating through your blood, regulating your metabolism, your sleep cycle, your response to stress and the general and incredibly important overall homeostasis that keeps you not dead, some hormones are just there to make other hormones trigger even more hormones in a kind of chemical relay race that biologists refer to rather elegantly as cascades, these hormones run through your body no matter what your mood is or whether you have zits, so the reality is we are all hormonal all the time, okay to begin to understand our hormones and the endocrine system that produces releases and reabsorbs them, we have to step back and take a broad view not just by emphasizing that sex hormones are not the only hormones you have but also by looking at how your hormones interact with your other organ systems because if anything your body has two bosses, two complementary systems that are constantly shouting instructions over each other to all your bits and pieces, both your endocrine system and your nervous system are constantly trafficking information around your corpus, gathering intel, making demands, controlling your every move, they just have totally different ways of doing it, your nervous system uses lightning-fast electrochemical action potentials delivered by an expressway made of neurons to specific cells and organs but your endocrine system prefers a slower wider stream of data. It secretes hormones that travel through your blood not through neurons so they move more slowly but they also produce widespread effects that last a whole lot longer than an action potential, now compared to your heart or brain or other arguably more glamorous organs, your endocrine system’s organs and glands are kind of small and lumpy, they’re also rogues instead of being all nestled together like in your other organ systems, these guys are scattered all over the place from your brain to your throat to your kidneys to your genitals.

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