Cortisol is a hormone that is the main glucocorticoid. Its secretion is controlled by adrenocorticotropic hormone and changes throughout the day. The role of this hormone is to regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, ions and water. So, cortisol: the norm in women.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It plays an important role in the balance of blood glucose and the release of sugar from the body’s reserves in response to a request for increased energy. Cortisol also promotes the metabolism of fats and proteins, lipids. It plays an anti-inflammatory role, is involved in the regulation of sleep and stress management.
Cortisol secretion is tied to a fixed rhythm: the hormone reaches a maximum between 6 and 8 am, and then gradually decreases towards the evening when its level is minimal. Thus, the hormone cortisol performs a number of vital tasks in the body. Consider them in more detail.
Cortisol is the most important anti-stress hormone of the body, protecting it from the negative effects of high levels of stress and providing a reasonable adjustment depending on external factors, such as a reaction to danger. Without human cortisol is not viable, because stress is constantly around us: starting from the morning lack of sleep and ending acute ichronic infections.
Cortisol is involved in inflammatory reactions and has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Thanks to this function, inflammation in the body does not spread too much, and there will not be much trouble from its small influence.
Cortisol is closely related to the immune system. Its task is to limit the over-reaction of the body’s immune response to external stimuli. People with high levels of cortisol have a weaker immune system.
Cortisol helps insulin to control blood sugar levels. Stress consumes a lot of energy, which is provided by the mobilization of sugar. Through its blood level, the lifting effect of cortisol ensures that sufficient energy is quickly released in the body if necessary.
Impact on vessels
Cortisol has a narrowing effect on the blood vessels, thus, the effect of increased blood pressure is triggered. Therefore, people with low cortisol levels are prone to low blood pressure.
Hormone cortisol: the norm in women
As already mentioned, the level of cortisol in the blood fluctuates throughout the day. Moreover, its concentration can be determined both in plasma, and in saliva or urine analysis. Among men, women, and children, normal cortisol levels in blood are:
- The maximum morning serum concentration is 45-225 µg / L. In the daytime, between 15 and 17 hours, the level drops to 30-165 mcg / l.
- Concentration in saliva at about eight in the morning is from 0.15 to 1.00 μg / dl, and at 22 hours from 0.07 to 0.22 μg / dl.
- The normal concentration of cortisol in a urine sample collected within 24 hours is between 21 and 150 µg / L.
As a rule, for objective analysis using venous blood taken in the elbow. The blood sample must be quickly processed and frozen before analysis. The analysis is carried out in the morning during the maximum secretion of the hormone - from 7 to 9 am, in the patient's relaxed state and with minimal effect of stress and exercise.
Thus, the normal values of cortisol in the blood of women, depending on the sampling time of the material, look like.
Sampling time, hour
Norm of cortisol in women, µg / dl
Value, mcg / l
Abnormalities and associated hazards
Cortisol levels are elevated with stress, hypoglycemia and pregnancy. Hyperactivity of the adrenal glands, which can occur, for example, in a tumor of their cortex, also leads to high concentrations of the hormone. But there are other reasons for the increased hormone levels:
- secreting tumors;
- adrenocortical tumors;
- overweight, obesity;
- adrenal adenoma;
- cirrhosis of the liver;
- neuropsychiatric diseases;
- state of shock;
- myocardial infarction;
We have already mentioned that the activity of the adrenal cortex on cortisol synthesis is stimulated by adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland. A pituitary tumor can cause too much production of this hormone, which, in turn, provokes an increased level of cortisol in the blood. With pathologically elevated levels of cortisol, we can talk about Cushing's syndrome, when hormone production due to hyperplasia of the pituitary or its tumor increases in the adrenal cortex.
Cortisol levels may be too low when the adrenal glands are not functioning properly. This occurs when adrenal insufficiency due to Addison's disease or if the pituitary gland produces too little adrenocorticotropic hormone.
Also, low cortisol values can be caused by:
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia;
- increased formation of androgens;
- treatment with the use of hormonal agents - corticosteroids.
For example, various forms of cortisone can be used as medicines for treating pathologies such as allergies, rheumatic diseases, or asthma.
It is important to understand that the findings on the results of analysis of cortisol content do not in themselves represent a diagnosis. Therefore, it is imperative that you consult with your doctor, and it is possible that additional examinations are needed to clarify the diagnosis and the choice of treatment method. Results may also vary depending on the method used. analysis in the laboratory.