What Does Estrogen Do for Women?
Estrogen is an important hormone for women — in fact, there are very few areas of our health that aren’t affected by estrogen. It can help:
- Regulate the menstrual cycle
- Maintain bone health
- Keep skin looking radiant and young
- Support your emotional well-being
Estrogen also affects sexual desire and can help us feel more connected to our partners, encouraging intimacy. From puberty through menopause, estrogen plays an essential role in keeping us healthy!
Interested in learning more? Love Wellness has you covered. Read on to discover all there is to know about this incredibly important sex hormone and its role in women’s health.
What Is Estrogen?
Simply put, estrogen is a hormone primarily produced in the female reproductive system. It’s classified as a steroid hormone, which means it’s a type of lipid molecule that is fat-soluble and can pass through cell membranes.
In women, the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissue work together to release estrogen in a cyclical pattern. With the help of other hormones like progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen helps to regulate both ovulation itself and the whole menstrual cycle.
In fact, you can even thank estrogen for your feminine curves. During puberty, estrogen is the hormone that tells your body to start increasing your breast size, redistribute weight to give you those wonderful curves, and produce other aspects of maturity, like pubic hair.
There are three types of estrogen your body produces:
Estradiol is the form of estrogen most commonly seen in women of childbearing age. Meanwhile, estriol is the form of estrogen typically produced during pregnancy to support the placenta and fetus.
Estrone is the type of estrogen most commonly seen in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. In fact, low estrogen production is often the reason for many common symptoms of menopause.
What Are the Benefits of Estrogen for Women?
It’s pretty clear that estrogen is a big deal. However, you didn’t leave estrogen behind when you stopped going through puberty — it’s still an incredibly active part of your day-to-day health and wellness.
For instance, did you know that there are estrogen receptors in your liver and bladder? There’s even some evidence that estrogen plays a role in your immune system.
Here are just a few reasons why estrogen is the ultimate hormone:
It Can Support Bone Health
Estrogen plays a key role in maintaining bone density, which is why women tend to have an increased risk for osteoporosis after menopause when their estrogen levels decrease. So, if you want to support your bones, make sure to keep your estrogen levels in check.
It Can Encourage Glowing Skin
Estrogen helps to keep your skin hydrated and elastic, which means fewer wrinkles and a youthful glow.
This is because there is a link between estrogen and collagen, with some researchers theorizing that estrogen can actually support collagen production after menopause.
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It Can Boost Your Mood
Estrogen has been shown to have a positive effect on mood, helping to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, estrogen imbalance can lead to mood swings, which are infamous symptoms of PMS and menopause.
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It Regulates Your Menstrual Cycle
Estrogen plays a major role in regulating the menstrual cycle. It encourages ovulation and thickens the endometrial lining to help the body support pregnancy.
In fact, if it wasn’t for estrogen, your body wouldn’t produce progesterone, which is the hormone that governs the last half of your menstrual cycle. Estrogen affects more than you’d think!
It Can Help Boost Your Libido
Estrogen is also essential for maintaining sexual desire and arousal. As you near ovulation, your estrogen will rise — and your libido might rise with it.
Technically, this is your body’s way of telling you that you’re near your fertile window. During this time of high estrogen, you might also notice feeling more adventurous or sensual.
What Causes Low Estrogen Levels in Women?
Since a woman’s body experiences many changes during her monthly cycle, it’s common to see some fluctuations in estrogen levels. However, an estrogen imbalance can have negative effects on your overall health.
For instance, high estrogen can lead to:
- Painful menstruation
- Uterine abnormalities
Meanwhile, low estrogen can increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease and weight gain.
Low estrogen levels in women can cause several unpleasant symptoms and may have serious long-term health effects — but what causes low estrogen in the first place? Let’s explore some of the most common reasons why a woman might find herself dealing with low estrogen levels.
One of the primary causes of low estrogen levels is simply aging. As a woman goes through menopause, her ovaries tend to produce fewer hormones, which can result in low levels of estrogen. This is why it’s not uncommon to develop symptoms related to low estrogen as you get older.
A diet lacking essential nutrients can also lead to hormonal imbalances, including low estrogen levels. If you suspect that your diet isn’t providing you with the nutrients you need, talk to your doctor about ways that you can make healthy adjustments to your daily eating.
Certain medications, like birth control pills, may also cause low estrogen levels in women.
If you are using any type of contraceptive medication or any other form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), speak with your healthcare provider about potential side effects and whether it may be contributing to hormonal imbalances.
Finally, certain conditions — such as ovarian cysts — can lead to lower levels of estrogen. It’s important to see your doctor if you experience any unexpected symptoms so they can properly diagnose your condition and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
What Are the Signs of Low Estrogen?
If you think your estrogen levels might be too low, here are some tell-tale signs you should look out for:
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Low estrogen levels can cause hot flashes and night sweats, even during the day. If you regularly wake up drenched in sweat, it could be due to your hormones being imbalanced.
Lack of sleep is one of the most common signs of low estrogen. Low levels of estrogen can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, leaving you feeling exhausted during the day.
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Changes in Libido
Estrogen plays an important role in a woman’s sex drive, so when it dips too low, it can have a significant effect on your desire for intimacy. If your libido has taken a dip lately, that could be a sign that your hormones may need rebalancing.
Estrogen can also contribute to vaginal dryness and atrophy, which can lead to pain during sex. Painful sex isn’t fun for anyone involved, so this can also lead to a decreased libido. If you’re noticing a lack of lubrication, it may be time to ask your doctor for a hormone test panel.
Low estrogen can also lead to health conditions like obesity due to its effects on metabolism and body composition. If you’ve been feeling like you’re experiencing more weight gain than usual, it may be time to get your hormones checked!
Note: If you’re experiencing any of these signs of low estrogen, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for help. They can recommend the best course of action for getting your hormone levels back in balance so you can get back to feeling like yourself again!
The Bottom Line
The importance of this hormone is undeniable: from preventing bone loss to supporting general health and well-being, adequate amounts of estrogen are essential for women at all stages of life — from puberty all the way through menopause!
Because of this, it’s essential for women to watch out for signs of low or high estrogen levels so they can take action when needed. By doing so, they can make sure that their bodies operate optimally for years to come.
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