Estrogen in Women

Estrogen production occurs in both men and women. Men make sufficient estrogen for their needs. That is not the case for women, particularly as they head toward and enter their menopausal years.

Estrogen is beneficial for libido and secondary sex characteristics, collagen production, vaginal/bladder tissue elasticity, heart-valve health, menses regulation, electrolyte and nitrogen metabolism, pregnancy maintenance, reproductive tissue, skin, breasts, brain health, artery lining protection, and HDL (good cholesterol) production. Estrogen is also shown to be a powerful antioxidant, helping combat free radicals and their effects on the aging process. Like testosterone, the pituitary gland produces gonadotropic hormones to regulate estrogen and progesterone. In women, these are follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin.

There are three naturally occurring estrogens: estradiol, estrone, and estriol. The estrogens are produced primarily in the ovaries (90%). Smaller amounts are produced in the adrenals, liver, and kidneys.

Estradiol. The primary and most active estrogen in a woman’s reproductive years. Produced in the ovaries, estradiol’s beneficial properties include protecting against osteoporosis and heart disease, enhancing cognitive functions, relieving menopausal maladies and increasing serotonin and endorphin levels for better emotional health and restful sleep.

Estrone. More prevalent in post-menopausal women. Derived from stored hormones in body fat, estrone’s functions mirror estradiol with weaker effects.

Estriol. Seen as “weakest” of the three estrogens; yet, it adds much to combating menopausal symptoms and aging effects, such as wrinkles and diminished skin texture. It also is beneficial in the vagina, cervix, vulva, and urethra, as well as providing protective properties against cancerous cells.

Balance is key. The right estrogen levels prove good for your health. Estrogen aids memory, promotes brain and nerve cells, protects the heart, increases HDL (the good cholesterol), stimulates skeletal growth and maintains healthy bones, among other benefits.

A majority of scientists believe that byproducts of estrogen dominance could influence health issues in women, including breast cancers. An estrogen dominance can also accelerate the aging process and lead to weight gain and bloating, reduced libido, fibrocystic or sensitive breasts, migraines, foggy thinking, fatigue, mood swings, insomnia, fibroids and ovarian cysts. Also, it has been linked to autoimmune disorders and allergies, as well.

Conversely, diminished estrogen levels could produce undesirable effects: vaginal dryness, urinary concerns, hot flashes, loss of skin elasticity and bone loss, as well as potentially hastening dementia.

 

Menopause and Estrogen

Since hormones interact, the low or high level of estrogen hormone in the body can start to cause problems with other hormones, namely progesterone. Often, early perimenopause symptoms are characteristic of progesterone deficiency rather than low estrogen. This imbalance is one of the main causes of the menopause symptoms that women experience. Progesterone and estrogen counteract and balance one another out, any kind of deficiency or excess of either hormone may cause unpleasant results.

 

Low Estrogen: In Need of Estrogen Replacement Therapy

Menopause is characterized by widely fluctuating estrogen levels. As the ovaries fail in later menopause, estrogen may start to decline, causing difficulty with sleeping, hot flashes, memory issues and breast tenderness. Over the course of our lives, our bones naturally break down. Normally, estrogen repairs this breakage with new bone growth. However, with declining estrogen levels, there is less bone growth and an increased chance of osteoporosis.

Low natural estrogen also causes low libido or diminished sex drive because vaginal walls become thinner and drier with the lack of the hormone; thus resulting in painful intercourse. Orgasms also become harder to reach and less intense. A lack of estrogen can also cause other skin changes in women. Reduced estrogen causes a reduction in collagen (which is responsible for building skin and connective tissue) and that can lead to thinner, dryer and wrinkled skin. Bioidentical estrogen replacement therapy is the prescribed solution for this condition.

These, and many other aspects of aging, are considered inevitable when in fact, they can be managed or relieved through hormone therapy. Aging is a symptom of hormone imbalance. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and memory loss are among the other symptoms of too little estrogen.

 

Estrogen Dominance

Too little estrogen is not always the issue in menopause. Often, the body has too much of the hormone, causing natural estrogen dominance. This is often due to dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Certain foods include xenohormones (hormones taken outside of the body) that can throw off hormone balance. Xenoestrogen is a big contributor to estrogen dominance. Low progesterone, which can be attributed to high stress, is also a typical issue in estrogen dominance. When your body is stressed, it produces higher amounts of the hormone Cortisol in an effort to control the stress on the body. The increased Cortisol reduces progesterone levels which can cause estrogen dominance. Symptoms of too much estrogen include anxiety, allergies, breast tenderness, fatigue, headaches, weight gain and more.

Balance is key. The right estrogen levels prove good for your health and can assist in improving energy, moodiness, sex drive, increased muscle mass, cognitive functioning, and sleep.

 

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