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Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Environmental factors affecting the brainpower and mood of women

Q: Do hormones affect the brainpower of women?

Answer by , MD: Yes. Many premenopausal women experience notable changes in their mental acuity that fluctuates with their menstrual cycles. Postmenopausal women not on estrogen therapy typically perform more poorly on various intelligence tests than do their counterparts who receive estrogen. Estrogen favorably affects some aspects of intelligence, but testosterone does, too. While the latter is often perceived as a male hormone, it is present in both sexes. Women with high-normal levels of testosterone are more likely to exhibit an appealing "can do" attitude, and they tend to have greater spatial intelligence in addition to being more optimistic, more competitive and aggressive at work, and more likely to have strong libidos and good sexual sensation.

However, our environment is brimming with countless natural and man-made chemicals that partially block the effects of estrogen and testosterone. To fully understand this subject and maximize your brainpower, you must understand phytoestrogens, xenoestrogens, metalloestrogens, and exogenous estrogens along with antiandrogens and a process termed competitive inhibition in which hormones are effectively neutralized to some extent by other chemicals. Those chemicals affect not only your intelligence, but also your breast size, fat level and distribution, vaginal sensate qualities (i.e., how great your vagina feels to your partner—all vaginas are NOT alike!), and even your risk of cancer and other diseases. This topic is so complicated that most physicians have only a nebulous conception of it. Even some supposed "experts" fail to grasp this subject, as evidenced by their use of phrases like, "Soy balances hormones, depending on the needs of your body." Hogwash.

I discuss this subject in The Science of Sex with an emphasis on how you can use that information to develop a better body and heighten your sexual pleasure. However, that information is also applicable to magnifying your brainpower and improving your mood. In Fascinating Health Secrets, I present additional ways to increase IQ and boost your spirits. Even if you aren't clinically depressed, you are probably not getting as much joy from your life as you should. This is one of the 1001 reasons why I wish people would stop frittering their time away by following the antics of, say, Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, and spend more time learning about health. Health has a bad reputation as being boring, but that is only when the person presenting the information is a dried-up old prune—which is often the case. Here is what two reviewers said about Fascinating Health Secrets:

Alan Jakeway, Northern Express: “You've got to hand it to Dr. Pezzi—he knows how to craft a health book that's as gripping as a ride through a big city ER. While many health books are as dry and dull as a surgeon's medical transcript, Dr. Pezzi brings a good bedside manner to his book, blending humor, first-person insights and a folksy wisdom with cutting edge medicine. Fascinating Health Secrets is a ‘good read’ page-turner that will keep your attention at the beach as well as any summer novel. Dr. Pezzi's encyclopedic scope is aided by equal measures of humor and intelligence.”

David Hacker, Prime Time News & Observer: “There's an odd fascination with the way Pezzi's mind works. He is a scholar, bright (possibly brilliant), and single-minded. There's plenty of useful information . . . some interesting tidbits . . . life-saving tips . . . and amusing historic trivia. For the most part, you can take this book seriously. At the same time, you can have fun with its folksy, whimsical and chatty style.”

Related topics

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