Women that suffer from menstrual cycle disorders like asthma and migraine headaches may in fact have an allergy to their own estrogen and progesterone hormones, say researchers from the University of Texas. Their study, in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, could go a long way to helping explain the misery that many women suffer from period related illnesses like asthma, migraines and joint pain.
Researchers Russell Roby and Aristo Vojdani found that women who experienced health changes during their menstrual cycle had higher levels of progesterone and estrogen antibodies, typically indicating an allergic response. Antibodies play a critical role in the body's immune system and are produced by the body in response to substances the body recognizes as foreign.
It was previously thought that hormone molecules were too small to create an allergic response, so they were never suspected of playing a role in allergic reactions. But the researchers found that estrogen and progesterone combine with other proteins and that the hormone part of this new molecular complex then becomes a target for the antibodies.
"We have shown that antibodies are produced against estrogen and progesterone," said Roby. "This opens a whole new area of treatment possibilities," he added, citing interstitial cystitis and fibromyalgia as two conditions that could benefit from this new understanding.
Source: University of Texas at Austin