The Female Hormone Estrogen

The Female Hormone Estrogen

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The Female Hormone Estrogen

Considered the most important of the female hormones, estrogen regulates and helps develop the reproductive system and sexual characteristics. Estrogen is mainly produced in the ovary glands which are included in a woman’s endocrine system, but are also created (in lesser amounts) in the adrenal glands and some fat cells.

Estrogen and the Reproductive System

When a woman enters the puberty stage of life, estrogen plays a significant role in developing such sexual features as wide hips, pubic and armpit hair and fuller breasts. Regulation of the menstrual cycle is also part of the hormone estrogen’s job – as is halting ovulation after an egg is fertilized and the woman becomes pregnant.

Estrogen helps an adolescent’s breasts develop and encourages lactation when the woman becomes pregnant. When a woman is pregnant the placenta is the main source of estrogen (estriol).

The vaginal wall’s thickness and strength are also affected by estrogen production as is vaginal lubrication and many other bodily functions. Skin, hair, pelvic muscles and even the color of the skin can change with the production of too much or too little estrogen.

Birth control pills and estrogen replacement therapy may cause changes in temperament and physical symptoms. If this happens to you, bring it to your doctor’s attention. Different prescriptions are available and it may take a few trials to find the one that affects you the least, or has the desired effects.

Some of the changes you may experience are tender breasts and mood swings, however, the right prescription can help regulate menstrual periods and reduce severity of some symptoms.

Estrogen in the Body

While many think of estrogen as only a sex hormone, it has far-reaching effects on the female mind and body. Fluctuations in estrogen levels will have an impact on overall health and wellbeing.

Bone Health

Assisting with bone formation is an important job for the estrogen hormone. As women age, bone loss may occur and bone formation may slow, in part due to a reduction in estrogen production. This may speed up the onset of osteoporosis, arthritis and other bone-related problems.

Estrogen Levels Can Increase and Decrease

A woman’s estrogen levels will usually increase and decrease at different phases during her lifetime. They will naturally increase during pregnancy and adolescence and decrease when a woman stops menstruating or goes through menopause.

During menopause, women may suffer symptoms such as vaginal dryness, loss of libido and hot flashes. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease during the post-menopausal years may also decrease estrogen production and also put the woman at a higher risk of developing fibrosis.

Too much or too little estrogen can cause changes in your body, especially during the monthly cycle. Even the brain is affected by too little or too much estrogen.

Serotonin receptors in the brain are increased by estrogen and research indicates that the hormone may delay memory loss and the onset of devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Birth Control Pills and HRT

Estrogen levels may be regulated by the use of oral birth control pills (with progestin). Progestin is a synthetic form of the natural hormone progesterone. Part of the normal function of progesterone is to regulate and balance estrogen.

A healthcare provider may recommend hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progestin) to help with menopausal side effects such as hot flashes, anxiety, sleep deprivation, night sweats and drying and thinning of the vagina.

More and more studies show that hormone replacement therapy has significant side-effects, including increased risks of developing breast cancer, blood clots and strokes. Not all doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy, and the ones that do, do so on a case by case basis.

The Female Hormone Estrogen
The Female Hormone Estrogen

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