What Is Estrogen?
Estrogens are hormones that play a vital role in female sexual and reproductive development. They are also known as female sex hormones. It is one of two sex hormones commonly associated with people assigned females at birth. Along with progesterone, estrogen plays a key role in your reproductive health.
What are the different forms of oestrogen?
There are three types of oestrogen based on their chemical composition:
- Estrone (E1) is the major type of estrogen produced by your body after menopause
- During your reproductive years, the major type of estrogen in your body is estradiol (E2). It is the strongest type of estrogen
- During pregnancy, the predominant type of estrogen is estriol (E3)
Sources of Estrogen:
Estrogen is mostly produced in the ovaries. Ovaries are grape-sized glands found near the uterus that are part of the endocrine as well as the reproductive system. Fat cells also secrete estrogen by converting androgens, or male hormones coming primarily from the adrenal glands, to estrogen.
What are the functions of Oestrogen?
At puberty, estrogen contributes to the development of female secondary sexual characteristics such as the development of breasts, broader hips, growth of pubic hair, and armpit hair. Estrogen also plays a role in the menstrual cycle by helping the development of the uterine lining in the first half of the cycle. If a woman's egg is not fertilized, her estrogen levels decrease and menstruation begins.
Apart from its role in the reproductive cycle, Estrogen also plays a vital role in many other bodily functions. It acts on your skeletal system- to strengthen the bones and muscles, the cardiovascular system, and the central nervous system. It helps regulate activities that affect your general health. It influences:
- Levels of cholesterol
- Sugar levels in the blood
- Muscle and bone mass
- Blood flow and circulation
- Collagen growth and skin hydration
- Hair growth
- Capacity to focus
- Temperature regulation center in the brain
- Digestive system
What happens when your estrogen levels are low?
Low estrogen levels are usually a sign that you are nearing menopause. Low estrogen may also indicate a reproductive issue, a chromosomal disorder such as Turner syndrome, Premature ovarian insufficiency and so on.
Symptoms could include:
- Breast tenderness.
- Weak or brittle bones.
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Periods that are irregular or nonexistent.
- Headaches, difficulty concentrating
- Tiredness, sleepiness, and difficulty sleeping
- Changes in mood, irritation, and sadness
- Vaginal dryness, painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
What happens when your estrogen levels are high?
Just as lower levels of estrogen can cause a problem, higher levels are also not desirable. Higher estrogen levels disturb the delicate balance of estrogen and androgens, or male hormones in the body and can cause various problems
Symptoms could include:
- Mood swings
- Breast pain
- Worse than normal PMS
- Period irregularities
- A thickened endometrium
- Low Sex drive
- Hair fall
- Fibrocystic disease of the breast
- Fibroids in the uterus
Estrogen is a central element of your reproductive health and wellness. It is normal for oestrogen levels to fluctuate with age and menstrual cycle. If they are regularly high or low, you may encounter unpleasant symptoms that you should discuss with your doctor. Some treatments can assist, most commonly in the form of contraception, lifestyle changes, or hormone medications after menopause.