The Effect of Hormones on the Voice and What To Do About It
I recently had a very confronting, embarrassing and unnerving experience whilst I was promoting our Vocal Boot Camp workshop program at an opportunistic business-health networking event. As I networked the room marketing my business I gradually heard my voice sounding lower, weaker and more nasal than usual, and I quickly became aware that my hormones were to blame.
Our bodies are amazing machines working synchronously to produce our voice with various extra added features. Clearly the human voice is susceptible to daily, monthly or even seasonal hormonal changes throughout our lives and as a result both males and females can experience vocal changes as your voice is driven by these special chemical messengers whose job is to ‘excite’ our internal organs.
For you as a Small Business owner, working in sync with your hormones can manage these audible alterations to improve the sound of your business voice which can dramatically effect your ability to increase your outputs by; confidently executing presentations, conducting media interviews with rhythm, recording podcasts and video marketing tools with colour, promoting your business enthusiastically within group situations, chairing meetings effectively, successfully negotiating with your clients and being positively engaged in other vocal business activities.
Female Sex Hormones
The movie Pitch Perfect characterised the female voice with it’s natural fluctuations in response to the hormonal changes associated with her monthly menstrual cycle or pregnancy. This is physiologically associated with the hormones accumulating fluid in her two vocal folds, increasing the blood flow to the throat and enlarging the blood vessels in the her nasal passages. You will hear common perceptual symptoms including; an uncontrolled deeper speaking pitch or difficulties reaching higher pitch levels, reduced voice intensity, strength and clarity, increased nasal resonance, a loss of harmonic tone, intonation or charisma and vocal fatigue. Typically these symptoms disappear afterwards.
However, research shows that the prosody of a speakers voice is a dominant feature when listening to a speakers voice not the linguistic content of what they say. Another fascinating viewpoint is when the reciprocal effect occurs when the hormonal voice quality of each speakers’ voice effect each other !
The thyroid is closely located near our vocal cords and also has a profound effect on the sound of our voice. If it is overactive a rough hoarse voice may be heard like Al Pacino’s characterisation of the Godfather. This is particularly dominant when females are affected during menopause (without the extreme depth of the vocal pitch).
Tips for improving your business voice:
- Be aware of your voice: Listen to how it sounds at different times of the month and keep an audio diary to work out your personal voice patterns.
- Create and implement a daily morning routine of a range of vocal warm ups, voice strengthening and intonation exercises.
- Practice your speech many times before a constructive audience to build up your confidence.
- When your hormones are playing havoc with your voice reduce your voice use, implement de-constriction exercises immediately and thus mitigate the risk of ruining your reputation.
- Use the full range of your voice by incorporating humorous characterisations into your public speaking presentations (and keeping your audience engaged and awake).
- Control influencing variables such as your lifestyle, taking voice breaks frequently throughout the day and implementing vocal hygiene tips such as deep breathing over a steaming cup or bowl of boiling water, drinking green or liquorice tea with honey and ginger are always a priority.
- Go out for a brisk walk every day in natural light with your iPod so that you can quietly hum along as you go gently exercising your vocal cords simultaneously.
- Take black cohosh, sage leaf and St John’s Wort to help balance hormones during the menopause and Agnus Castus for menstrual problems.
- Smoking significantly increases the risk of voice disorders by drying the vocal cords and thyroid issues – so if you’re still puffing away, make this your reason to quit.
- Eat less junk and more vegetables, protein and a moderate intake of whole grains for a healthier thyroid gland.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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