An Intimate Geography
by Natalie Angier
Review written by: firstname.lastname@example.org, SU Member
Subject: Chemicals of the Uterus
"For years the uterus was viewed as merely a recipient of biochemical information, the target of endocrine activity generated elsewhere in the body. It was not thought to manufacture essential chemicals on its own.
"More recently, the uterus has emerged as a maker as well as a taker. Yes, it responds to hormones from the ovaries and other organs, but it also expresses hormones and releases them into the body.
"The uterus fabricates drugs that would be considered illegal in other contexts.
"It synthesizes and secretes beta-endorphins and dynorphins, two of the body's natural opiates, and chemical cousins to morphine and heroine.
"It makes anandamine, a molecule almost identical to the active ingredient in marijuana.
"Until recently, these compounds were thought to be the exclusive property of the central nervous system (the brain & spinal cord). The uterus produces at least as much opiate material as the brain, and it makes 10 times more of the marijuana equivalent than any other organ in the body.
"It makes proteins, sugars, fats, and prostaglandins (which very likely affect the walls of your blood vessels, improving vascular tone, and perhaps preventing hardening of the arteries that can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease).
"In truth, we know remarkably little about the purpose of the various opiates, chemicals, hormones, and hormone precursors that the uterus secretes with such vigor. We don't know how important the output is to our overall health and well-being.
"We should be humbled by the fact that scientists discovered the very dramatic concentrations of anandamine in the uterus as recently as the late 1990s. And that humbleness should in turn enhance our vigilance against removing the uterus in all but the most extreme circumstances."
In addition to the estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone we are trying to replace from our missing or compromised ovaries, how on earth do we replace the other chemicals essential to our quality of life that the uterus produces? Does anyone else out there feel like a lab rat? (pardon the sarcasm . . . )
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