WHAT IS ESTROGEN?
Estrogen are hormones that are important primarily for reproduction and sexual development in women. These are also known as female sex hormones. The term “estrogen” refers to all chemically similar hormones in this group, such as estrone, estriol, and estradiol. This hormone is produced every month from cholesterol by the ovaries of women. Estrogen reaches all organs and tissues through the blood and is metabolized by enzymes in the liver.
Estrogen is produced by the ovaries and to a lesser extent by the adrenal cortex, the testes, and the fetus and placenta.
Estrogen dominance is one of the major causes of hormone imbalances in both men and women. Estrogen dominance occurs when somehow the ratio of progesterone to estrogen becomes too high. In estrogen predominance, increased levels of estrogen compared to progesterone are also seen, but this is very rare.
TYPES OF ESTROGEN HORMONE:
There are three types of estrogen hormones:
Estrone (E1): This main form of estrogen is produced during menopause. It builds up in the liver and fat cells because toxins such as xenoestrogens, heavy metals, and other pollutants, etc. factors that affect hormone levels, collect in your liver and fat cells.
Estradiol (E2): Most of the estrogen is produced in the ovaries. These hormones play an important role in energy, sleep, happiness, sex, healthy bones, and hair. It also helps in providing moisture to the skin, lips, eyes, and vagina. Estradiol is an effective growth stimulator and increased levels of it increase the risk of cancer of the breast or uterus.
Estriol (E3): It is made in the liver and breast cells. It is mainly produced by the placenta during pregnancy. It is believed that this form of estrogen is also used to detect which cells are working for estrogen and which are not. It is a highly protective form of estrogen that reduces cell growth factors and excess estrogen. Estriol reduces excess estradiol and protects the breasts from carcinogenic radiation.
Normally 90 percent estriol, 7 percent estradiol, and 3 percent estrone should be present in the body.
In women, the process of reproduction is promoted by fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone from the onset of menstruation to menopause. Most women go through the phase of pre-menopause around the age of 35 to 40. This is due to fluctuating levels of progesterone and estrogen.
From the onset of pre-menopause to the age of 50, there is approximately a 35% reduction in estrogen levels as well as a 75% reduction in progesterone levels. But this is considered normal. Although estrogen and progesterone depend on each other. Symptoms of estrogen dominance arise from such a decrease in progesterone production.
Then, why not estrogen levels already low? Women may also experience increased estrogen levels, along with normal or low levels of progesterone. It is also considered to be estrogen dominant. For women, it is more common in the menstruating years.
IMPORTANCE OF ESTROGEN HORMONE:
The estrogen hormone helps in bringing about the physiological changes that turn a girl into a woman. This time of life is called puberty. Some such changes are as follows:
- Development of breasts
- Hair growth in the genitals and armpits
- Start of the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle and is important for conception. Other functions of this hormone may include:
- Controls cholesterol
- Protects bones in both women and men
- Affects the bones, brain, heart, skin, and other tissues.
ROLE OF ESTROGEN IN THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE:
Female sex hormones regulate the menstrual cycle and their levels keep on increasing and decreasing on their own. The menstrual cycle is a dynamic process that occurs on average every 28 days. Estrogen plays a major role in this cycle.
DAY 1: PERIOD
Estrogen and progesterone levels are lowest at the time of the menstrual cycle.
DAY 5: EGG SELECTION
Inside the ovary, the egg is present within the follicle. A follicle is a structure in which the development of an egg takes place. It produces increased levels of estrogen.
DAYS 6-14: PREPARING FOR OVULATION
By the end of this phase, estrogen levels increase slowly and then rapidly.
AROUND DAY 14: OVULATION
The shell surrounding the egg is removed and the ovary releases the egg into the fallopian tube so that it can be fertilized by sperm. And the cover remains in the ovary itself.
DAY 15-28: AFTER OVULATION
After ovulation, progesterone levels increase. If the egg is released but not fertilized, after about 2 weeks, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and the lining of the uterus is ready for release. The next periods begin and the cycle starts all over again.
Estrogen probably plays a role in premenstrual dysphoric disorder ( PMS ) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). However, estrogen levels are usually normal in women who experience PMS or PMDD. Women who experience PMS or PMDD during their menstrual cycle may also be affected by the normal changes in estrogen levels.
ESTROGEN LEVEL TESTS:
Renowned estrogen researcher, Dr. Henry Lemon found that estrogen has a lower risk of cancer if E3 is higher than E1 and E2.
The formula for extracting Estrogen Quotient is:
Total E3 / (Total E1 + Total E2) = Total E3/(Total E1+Total E2)
If the estrogen quotient is less than 1.0, the risk of breast cancer is higher than a person whose estrogen quotient is greater than 1.0. The optimal estrogen quotient is considered most protective for breast tissue if the ratio is greater than 1.5. This quotient may also be useful for determining other aspects of hormonal health and the increased risk of autoimmunity.
There are several types of tests used to find out about hormone levels. Your doctor may ask you to have a blood test. Your blood may be tested for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is responsible for the regulation of estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries.
- Before getting the test done, you should tell your doctor about the medicines and supplements you are currently taking. If you use birth control pills, you should also inform your doctor about them as they can affect your test. Tell your doctor, if you have any disease such as thyroid disease, hormone tumors, ovarian cysts, and abnormal vaginal bleeding, as these can affect FSH levels.
- A follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test is usually done on the second or third day of your period.
- Estradiol is usually calculated by test and the normal range for pre-menopausal women is 60-400 picograms/ml (depending on the state of your menstrual cycle) and for post-menopausal women, the normal range is 130 picograms/ml.
- Estrogen levels are also detected by examining saliva.
CAUSES OF LOW LEVELS OF ESTROGEN HORMONE (ESTROGEN DEFICIENCY):
The hormone estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries, hence, the factors affecting ovulation also affect estrogen production. Young women may experience a decrease in estrogen hormone levels (estrogen deficiency) due to the following reasons:
- Insanity workout
- Eating disorders such as anorexia
- The less useful pituitary gland
- Chronic kidney disease
- Turner syndrome affects little girls and their ovaries do not work properly
- Premature ovarian failure, which can be caused by toxins, heredity, and autoimmune problems
- Lower estrogen levels in women over the age of 40 can be a sign of menopause.
Your ovaries also produce estrogen during peri-menopause. It will continue to be produced at a slow rate until menopause occurs. When the production of estrogen stops, you go into menopause.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW LEVELS OF ESTROGEN HORMONE (ESTROGEN DEFICIENCY):
Girls who have not reached puberty and women who are nearing menopause are likely to have low levels of estrogen hormone, but women of all ages can develop estrogen. Symptoms of low levels of estrogen hormone (estrogen deficiency) include:
- Experiencing pain during sex due to lack of vaginal lubrication
- Irregular menstruation
- Mood changes
- An increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to dilation of the urethra
- Hot flashes
- Breast discomfort
- Headache or recurrence of pre-existing migraine
- Decreased concentration.
Your bones can fracture or break more easily due to a decrease in bone density. Estrogen works together with calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals to keep bones strong. If you have low levels of estrogen hormone, your bone density may decrease. If left untreated, low estrogen hormone levels may lead to infertility in women.
WAYS TO INCREASE ESTROGEN LEVELS:
Women who have low estrogen levels may benefit from hormonal treatment.
Women between the ages of 25 and 50 are prescribed higher doses of estrogen when estrogen levels are low. It lowers the risk of bone loss, heart disease, and other hormonal imbalances.
The actual amount of estrogen depends on the severity of the disease and the method of dosage. Estrogen can be delivered into the body in the following ways:
- Through injection.
In some cases, long-term treatment is needed even when estrogen levels are normal. Estrogen therapy can reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms and the risk of fractures.
Long-term estrogen therapy is the primary treatment for women who are going through menopause or have had a hysterectomy. In all other cases, estrogen therapy is only done for one to two years because it can also increase the risk of cancer.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT):
HRT is used to increase your body’s natural hormone levels. If your menopause is near, your doctor or healthcare provider may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Menopause consistently lowers estrogen and progesterone levels. HRT helps to normalize these levels. In this therapy, also, estrogen is delivered to the body in the same way as above.
Women who are given HRT treatment to treat menopause may have an increased risk of heart disease. This treatment may lead to diseases such as blood clots, stroke, and breast cancer.
CAUSES OF HIGH ESTROGEN LEVELS:
There can be many reasons for the increase in the level of estrogen hormone such as:
- Hormone imbalance, when progesterone levels drop
- Taking certain medications such as estrogen replacement therapy and birth control pills
- Low testosterone or progesterone levels can disturb the hormone balance in the body
- Low-fiber diet
- Liver disturbances
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Due to the excess of xenoestrogen, a man-made chemical that mimics estrogen in the body and disrupts the hormonal balance.
SYMPTOMS OF INCREASED LEVELS OF ESTROGEN HORMONE:
When the levels of estrogen and testosterone in your body are not normal, you may develop the following symptoms:
- Swelling and discomfort in the breasts
- Decreased libido
- Irregular menstruation
- Change in mood
- Development of a lump in the breast
- Weight gain
- Hair fall
- Hands and feet remain cold
- Feeling tired; lack of energy
- Weak memory
- Increase in PMS symptoms.
WAYS TO REDUCE ESTROGEN LEVELS:
Here’re the different ways to lower estrogen levels:
- Skin care products contain many chemicals such as chemical sunscreens, phthalates and petroleum chemicals such as xenoestrogens. So look for brands that use natural and organic ingredients that do not increase estrogen levels.
- Studies show that many pesticides reduce hormone levels, so wash vegetables and fruits before use as they may also contain organic pesticide residues.
- You need enough fiber to maintain proper digestion of the body. Eat more leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fruits, and beans.
- Plastic bottles, food containers, bags, etc. contain harmful chemicals, which mimic estrogen in the body. Stored and microwaved in glass or ceramic containers and canned food etc. should be avoided.
- Try cooking in ceramic or iron utensils as nonstick utensils are a good source of xenoestrogen. If they become excessively hot, they produce substances that spoil the endocrine gland in the food. Cook food in ceramic or iron utensils for a healthy meal.
- Do exercise. Studies have shown that exercise helps reduce estrogen levels. For instance; a 2011 scientific study found that premenopausal women who did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes a week had reduced estrogen levels by about 19 percent. According to a 2013 study, aerobic exercise helps reduce estrogen levels in the body.
- Get enough sleep. When you do not get enough sleep, the level of the sleep hormone melatonin gets disrupted. Melatonin is believed to have a protective effect against estrogen. A 1999 study found that melatonin helped inhibit the growth of cancer cells caused by estrogen.
- Use filters for drinking water. Water found in public places often contains chlorine, fluoride, and other industrial chemicals that act as xenoestrogens. So use a good quality filter.
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