Estrogen Hormone. What Every Woman Should Know. A Definitive Guide

Estrogen Hormone: All That You Need To Know About Estrogen

They say about 80% of women health & beauty issues are related to Estrogen Hormone...

Hormones are chemical messengers within the endocrine system. They travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs in order to control various functions in the body.

Tip: Understanding Estrogen hormone will help you understand the causes and treatments of most women health and beauty issues. Just read this article even if it is a long one.

In this article, you will learn the role of estrogen in: -

  1. Belly fat and how you can lose it the easier way
  2. Acne and how you can permanently cure acne
  3. Uterus fibroids and how estrogen balance can get you the relief you need
  4. Infertility & how miracle babies have been born after estrogen balance
  5. Endometriosis and how estrogen is the main culprit
  6. Hair loss and hair thinning & how to correct it
  7. Premenstrual syndrome and how you can control this
  8. Heart diseases and what you need to know to stay ahead
  9. Breast Cancer & other women cancers
  10. And much more

Human body secretes and circulates over 50 hormones including estrogen. Although all women (and men) know what estrogen is, there is still a lot you need to learn.

In order to prevent all the problems that come with hormonal imbalance, you need to know all there is to know about The Estrogen Hormone.

Throughout this post, we’re going to focus on estrogen and everything you need to know about this hormone.
Are You Ready?

How to Scan This Article if In a Hurry

Lookout for highlights that looks like this one. By reading the highlights and bullet points, you should be able to get the key points if medical jargons are getting on your way.

What is Estrogen Hormone?

Estrogen (or oestrogen) refers to a group of hormones that play a significant role in the reproductive and sexual development of women.

Term estrogen comes from the Latin word oestrus meaning “frenzy” which stems from Geek term “oistros”.

The hormone got its name due to its role in the estrous cycle, a period of fertility for female mammals.

Ahead: We are going to see how estrogen affects belly fat, weight gain, hair loss, acne and so much more

Keep Reading... Long Post Alert.

Estrogen Discovery

Discovery of this hormone is linked to a few names including an American biochemist who discovered vitamin K, Edward Adelbert Doisy, an anatomist and physiologist Edgar Allen, and a German biochemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 for his work on sex hormones Adolf Butenandt.

In the early 1920s, Allen and Doisy carried out an experiment which showed that ovarian follicles not only produce eggs in mammals but also the primary ovarian hormone.

This hormone was renamed to estrogen later. During the experiment, scientists extracted estrogen from the ovarian follicles of hogs.

They proved the isolation of the hormone with a measurement that was later named Allen-Doisy test.

In 1923, two scientists discovered that estrogen is made within the ovaries. Their findings and extraction method served as the basis for many future experiments[1].

While Butenandt didn’t work with Allen and Doisy, his discoveries are remarkable. Without him, birth control pills wouldn’t exist.

You see, Adolf Butenandt discovered and isolated progesterone and determined the composition of estrogen and estriol[2].

Types of Estrogen

Estrogen is a term that refers to different hormones which play a role in female reproductive and sexual health, and so much more. Hormones in the estrogen family include:

1.Estrone (E1) – the weak form of estrogen and the only type of this hormone found in women after they enter menopause. Most tissues of the body, primarily muscle and fat, contain small amounts of estrone.

The hormone is sometimes considered bad sister in the estrogen family because high levels of estrone could be pro-carcinogenic e.g. they are linked to higher risk of breast cancer[3].

Ovarian cysts produce this bad type of estrogen leading to infertility, acne, hair loss, belly fat, diabetes, weight gain, low libido, fibroids and many other women conditions.

2. Estradiol (E2) – the strongest form of estrogen. It is the most important hormone during the reproductive years of every woman.

Not only does estradiol influence sexual and reproductive function, but it has an impact on other functions in the body and our overall health.

Estradiol is produced by the ovaries primarily, but also by adrenal glands and placenta during pregnancy

3. Estriol (E3) – the weakest of all members of the estrogen family; it is a byproduct made after the body uses estrogen.

The greatest amounts of the hormone are produced by the placenta during pregnancy. In addition, estriol is the safest type of estrogen because it protects the body from adverse effects of other, stronger forms of the hormone.

Stay With Me. We'll Talk About Why You Can't Lose Weight Until You Fix Estrogen.

Over 80% of all beauty and health issues women deal with are related to Estrogen Hormone.

Estrogen Imbalance (Estrogen dominance) is a real problem to women - and we all have some degree of estrogen imbalance! Causes

80% of all migraines in women during reproductive years are caused by estrogen fluctuations (5)

  1. Women are 2-3 times more likely to get migraine headaches than men, due to estrogen fluctuations
  2. Stubborn belly fat in women is highly correlated with estrogen imbalance & cortisol hormone surge
  3. Nearly 50% of all infertility cases are related to hormonal imbalance
  4. Over 70% of all black women have uterus fibroids. Estrogen balance can shrink fibroids up to 80%.
  5. Hair loss in women is primarily caused by androgens (male hormones that increase when estrogen is imbalanced)
  6. Acne, just like hair loss and hair thinning in women is caused by testosterone that increases due to estrogen imbalance.
Acne, Hair Loss, Belly Fat has a lot to do with estrogen imbalance. I should mention that belly fat or trunk obesity also has to do with cortisol hormone (the stress hormone).

How our Bodies Make Estrogen:

Production of estrogen occurs in the ovaries interstitial cells and the egg follicle (a saclike structure that holds an immature egg).

Other organs and tissues such as placenta, adrenal glands, and testes also synthesize estrogen hormone.

Why testes? No, this is not a mistake. Even men have estrogen, but in significantly lower amounts than women. Women have testosterone too, the common cause of acne and hair thinning.

Estrogen Synthesis Flow Chart

Synthesis and secretion of estrogen involve cholesterol. Cholesterol is crucial in the formation of ovarian steroid hormones.

It is converted to pregnenolone, which is then converted to progesterone.
The process of estrogen production involves a lot of conversions.

For instance, progesterone converts to estrone and estradiol through intermediate formation of male sex hormones (androgens).

Aromatase enzyme regulates the conversion of male sex hormones to female hormones.

The most abundant sources of aromatase are the ovaries, but a certain amount is found in adipose tissues.

This means fat women have high estrogen levels, something that can disrupt the reproductive system.

Ever heard stories about women who could not conceive (get pregnant) but after weight loss, they became pregnant? Keep reading

Each type of estrogen has a unique manner of production.

Estradiol is synthesized from testosterone while androstenedione is a precursor of estrone.

Estrone can also be formed from estradiol. Both estrone and estradiol create estriol.

After getting secreted into the bloodstream, estrogen hormones reversibly bind to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).

SHBG is a protein produced by the liver and serves as a transportation tool that carries these hormones as biologically inactive forms.

As a result, some estrogen in serum is free or unbound while the rest is bound. Estrogens interact with cells of different tissues and deliver an instruction or message that influences the function of those sites.

Ovaries start releasing estrogen during puberty, which correlates with the beginning of the menstrual cycle.

The concentration of estrogen hormone is the highest during ovulation (egg-releasing period) and after menstruation when the empty egg follicle is replaced by corpus luteum, yellow body or a hormone-producing cluster of cells that develops from the follicle after ovulation.

The Menstrual Cycle

Expert Tip: For women with irregular periods or prolonged bleeding, hormonal balance (estrogen) with supplements like DIM & Vitex can solve the problem.

Functions of Estrogens. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!

Estrogen plays a huge role in the body since it influences a number of functions including reproductive health, physical structure, and others.

1. Reproductive Health

In women, estrogens influence the function of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, mammary glands, and uterus.

Below, you can see how this much-needed hormone affects each of these tissues and organs and glands:

Ovaries – estrogens stimulate the growth of egg follicle and pituitary gland (master gland of the body, located at the base of the brain) to release hormones that assist the follicular development.

After the egg is released, it starts moving through fallopian tubes and reaches the uterus

Fallopian tubes – estrogen is necessary for developing a thick muscular wall of the fallopian tubes. It is also necessary for contractions that transport sperm cells and an egg along the fallopian tube where fertilization occurs.

Uterus – the hormone builds and maintains the endometrium (uterus lining), a mucous membrane that lines the inner layer of the uterine wall.

Estrogens work to increase weight and size of the endometrium as well as its blood flow, cell number and types, enzyme activity and protein content.

Thanks to estrogen hormones, muscles within the uterus are able to contract which is crucial for childbirth and shedding of the dead tissue during the monthly period

Cervix – the function of estrogens in the cervix is to regulate the thickness and flow of mucous secretions (cervix secretes mucus in order to enhance transport of sperm)

Vagina – since estrogen is a female sex hormone its impact on vagina itself seems logical.

Estrogen activities contribute to thickening of the vaginal wall, growth of the vagina to its adult size, and a heightened vaginal acidity to decrease or prevent bacterial infections

Mammary glands – in a woman’s breasts, the activity of estrogen is complex because it is intertwined with those of other hormones.

As a result, the precise influence of estrogen on breasts and mammary glands is poorly defined, but a commonly accepted fact is that estrogen plays a role in stopping the flow of milk after a woman no longer breastfeeds.

Of course, estrogen influences color or pigmentation of nipples and growth of the breasts in puberty

Basically, the "mother" qualities and properties are determined and controlled by estrogen hormone, of course together with other hormones. Estrogen is the base hormone in a woman body.

2. Cardiovascular Health.

Estrogen seems to have heart protective properties to women, something scientist think it is the reason women rarely suffer heart attacks during fertility years.
  1. Increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind).
  2. Decreases LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
  3. Promotes blood clot formation, and also causes some changes that have the opposite effect.
  4. Relaxes smooths and dilates blood vessels so blood flow increases, thus, lower blood pressure
  5. Destroys free radicals known to damage cells and cause poor immunity

Expert Tip

Women develop heart disease 10 years later than men, but by age 65, their risk is equal to that of men.
It seems estrogen protects women from getting heart diseases. At age 65, the effects of good estrogen phases out.

3. Musculoskeletal System. Bones

Estrogen takes part in bone development and maintenance of bones. It stimulates bone formation and the closure of bone epiphyses, a rounded end of a long bone.

Estrogens prevent bone loss and reduce the incidence of fractures. However, after menopause, women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures as estrogen levels drop.

The underlying mechanism of this estrogen effect involves the prevention of apoptosis (normal death of cells) in osteoblasts (cells that make bone) and inhibition of caspase-3 activity.

The caspase-3 is an enzyme crucial for initiating the process of apoptosis[4].

4. Physical Structure

  1. Estrogens, female sex hormone, create some structural differences that set women apart from men. Some of these physical structure differences include:
  2. Body hair is less pronounced
  3. Broader pelvic region
  4. The female body is more contoured and curved due to fatty tissue that covers breasts, muscles, hips, buttocks, and thighs
  5. Narrower shoulders
  6. Scalp hair is more permanent.
  7. Shorter vocal cords, smaller voice box which is why women have a higher-pitched voice than men
  8. Smaller and shorter bones
  9. A suppressed activity of sebaceous (oil) glands, reduced the likelihood of acne compared to men

Like other hormones, estrogen influences many functions in our body and contributes to a vast array of structural differences, but more research is needed to uncover all of them.

Did you know women hips are adapted to allow baby delivery? That is why women have a wider pelvic bone.

The Bad & Ugly

5. Estrogen Effects on Hunger, Appetite & Satiety

CCK (cholecystokinin Hormone) mediates estradiol-induced suppression of appetite during menstrual cycles.

Most women with balanced estrogen hormone have a poor appetite during periods.

Imbalanced estrogen hormone causes food craving, hunger, and overeating.
Male and female reproductive hormones exert a differential effect on leptin expression, which results in greater circulating leptin levels in women (higher leptin is associated with appetite suppression).

Leptin & Ghrelin hormones control hunger. Imbalanced estrogen (usually high) causes lower leptin levels, thus high appetite and food cravings. Food cravings are common in women during certain times of monthly cycle and during pregnancy.

6. Belly Fat & Estrogen Imbalance

An increase of the male hormones along with a decrease of estrogen in women is associated with higher levels of intra-abdominal body fat or belly fat (often known as the “apple shape”) (6

Normal Estrogen Levels

Hormonal balance is vital for good health and well being of a woman. Estrogen levels depend on a person’s age, diet, exercise, genetics, environment etc.

Generally, women ages 20-29 have an average 149 pg/ml (picograms per milliliter) while women who are 30 to 39 years old have about 210 pg/ml of estrogen.

Women over 40, who aren’t in menopause, have 152 pg/ml on average (7). It is important to mention that values of estrogen can vary day to day depending on your menstrual cycle (8), such as:

  • Mid-follicular phase (after the period, before ovulation) – 27-123 pg/ml
  • Periovulatory phase – 96-436 pg/ml
  • Mid-luteal phase (after ovulation) – 49-249 pg/ml
  • Postmenses (after monthly periods)– 0-40 pg/ml
The reality is that you’ll find different information about what is considered normal estrogen level. This emphasizes the importance of consulting your doctor.

Low Estrogen Levels:

Hormones fluctuate from time to time throughout the age and women cycle.

Sometimes they’re up, other instances, they go down. These imbalances come with various symptoms which can potentially impair one’s quality of life.

Low estrogen is a common problem that usually affects girls who haven’t reached puberty and women who are approaching menopause(8).

Causes of Low Estrogen:

What is the cause of low estrogen? It would be impossible to pinpoint a specific cause.

Since the hormone is mainly produced in ovaries, anything that affects them, and their function can lead to low estrogen.

In women who are over 40 estrogen levels drop drastically usually due to perimenopause.

This is the time that occurs prior to a woman enters menopause. At this time, ovaries continue to produce estrogen but at a slower rate.

Once the production of estrogen stops entirely, you are officially in menopause. In younger women, low estrogen can occur due to:

  1. Anorexia and other eating disorders
  2. Chronic kidney disease
  3. Excessive exercise
  4. Impaired function of the pituitary gland
  5. Premature ovarian failure due to an autoimmune condition, toxins, genetic defects
  6. Turner syndrome (a chromosomal condition where a part of X chromosome is absent and function of ovaries impaired)

Effects of High and Low Estrogen Levels

Effects of High and Low Estrogen Levels

Risk Factors for Low Estrogen Levels

Every girl or woman can deal with low estrogen problem, but some ladies are at a higher risk. Common risk factors include: 

  1. Aging, the closer you are to menopause the higher the risk of experiencing hormone fluctuations
  2. Eating disorders
  3. Extreme dieting & exercise
  4. A family history of hormonal issues and/or ovarian cysts
  5. Having issues with the pituitary gland

Common Signs of Estrogen Imbalance

Symptoms of Low Estrogen.

As mentioned above, ups and downs in hormone levels come with different symptoms. Signs and symptoms of low estrogen include the following:
  1. Absent or irregular periods
  2. Bones fracture more easily
  3. Breast tenderness (also a sign of high estrogens)
  4. Depression
  5. Difficulty concentrating
  6. Fatigue
  7. Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  8. Headaches or amplified pre-existing migraine
  9. Mood swings
  10. Painful sex due to lack of vaginal lubrication
  11. Weight gain

Do the above symptoms sound like symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Estrogen levels are lowest shortly before and during monthly periods. Now you know why the feeling before and during menses flow.

 Conventional Treatment of Low Estrogen.

While it’s common to experience hormone fluctuations at one point or another, low estrogen is more than that.

These symptoms are persistent but manageable. In order to overcome these problems, it is necessary to consult a doctor, particularly if your periods are absent or irregular for months.

The doctor performs a physical exam and orders blood tests to analyze estrogen levels.

After the low estrogen diagnosis, the health care provider recommends an adequate treatment, which is usually hormone-based. Common treatment options include:

Estrogen therapy – high dose of estrogen is usually prescribed to women ages 25 to 50 who are deficient in this hormone.

The dosage depends on the severity of the condition. Therapy can be administered topically, orally, vaginally, and via injection.

Long-term estrogen therapy is usually recommended for women who have undergone a hysterectomy and approaching menopause

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – works to augment the body’s natural hormone levels and primarily prescribed to women who are about to enter menopause.

HRT balances both estrogen and progesterone levels which deplete as the “change” occurs.

Administration routes are the same as those of estrogen therapy: vaginal, oral, topical, and the injection.

Estrogen Dominance (Imbalanced Estrogen Levels)

Estrogen dominance is a common hormone problem indicated by deficient, normal, or high estrogen but little to no progesterone in the body to balance its effects.

High estrogen levels can be a result of medications, environmental toxins like plastics and vehicle fumes or they can occur naturally.

Even men can experience estrogen dominance. This type of hormonal imbalance in men is indicated by erectile dysfunction, gynecomastia (male boobs), weight gain, and infertility.

 Estrogen Dominance Signs & Symptoms 

Women who are affected by estrogen dominance experience the following symptoms (9):
  1. Amplified PMS symptoms (cramping, bloating, mood swings, food cravings, etc)
  2. Bloating & water retention
  3. Cold feet or hands
  4. Difficulty sleeping
  5. Fatigue and foggy brain
  6. Fibrocystic formations in the breast
  7. Hair loss on the edges and/or scalp
  8. Hair growth in the body and face
  9. Headaches & migraines
  10. Infertility
  11. Irregular menstrual periods
  12. Low sex drive and dryness
  13. Mood swings
  14. Polycystic ovary syndrome
  15. Sluggish metabolism and weight gain, especially belly fat
  16. Tenderness and swelling in the breasts
  17. Weaker memory
  18. Difficulty Losing Weight

Experts believe that every woman deals with some level of estrogen imbalance. It is likely that up to this point, you have found a few symptoms you have dealt with.

There are natural remedies for estrogen imbalance that actually works!

How To Balance Estrogen

The liver metabolizes estrogen. It is capable of destroying excess estrogens or spare destruction in situations of low estrogen levels.

Your Gynecologist may put you on progesterone based birth control pills to counter the effects of estrogen.

Unfortunately, you cannot have kids when on birth control pills ... RIGHT?

Your dermatologist might put you on the same estrogen birth control pills or creams if you have severe acne.

Again, conception & fertility is on the line ... RIGHT?

 Estrogen Balancing Supplements

Many women around the globe take supplements to balance hormone levels.

These supplements usually involve plants or herbs which promote hormone balance in an entirely natural manner without side effects.

The major ones:

1.Diindolylmethane (DIM), a component of Indole-3-carbinol (I3C):

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a component of Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) found in cruciferous vegetables, notably broccoli, cauliflowers, and kales.

DIM is the superior more potent form of indole-3-carbinol.

Effects and Benefits of DIM

DIM has potent effects on estrogen metabolism and is able to keep the body relatively balanced (by preventing either drastic increases or decreases in estrogen).

This herbal natural extract helps the liver to keep your estrogen levels balanced.

In small amounts, it can both inhibit the aromatase enzyme (and prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen).

It can act on more potent forms of estrogen and convert them into less potent forms; this conversion reduces the overall destructive effects of estrogen in the body.

DIM has numerous anti-cancer effects in the body and it is one of the reasons cruciferous vegetables are some of the healthiest vegetables.

2. Vitex Agnus-Castus (Chasteberry)

Do you suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular periods, infertility, fibroids, estrogen imbalance or menopause? You might want to try Vitex. Vites is best for:
  1. Relieving pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms
  2. Relieving endometriosis pain
  3. Infertility caused by luteal phase abnormalities (estrogen imbalance)
  4. Regulating irregular or absent menstrual cycle
  5. Bleeding caused by an intrauterine device (IUD)
  6. Breast pain or fibrocystic breasts
  7. Acne
  8. Menopausal symptoms

 Minor Ones

Black cohosh – particularly effective for menopausal women. Black cohosh can alleviate night sweats and hot flashes, headache, depression, vaginal atrophy, anxiety, and decreased libido. It contains a natural precursor of estrogen

Damiana – a natural aphrodisiac, contains natural estrogens, aids in ovulation and supports hormone balance. Damiana may increase sexual prowess, treats hot flashes

Soy – well-known for high phytoestrogens content. Of course, moderate consumption is highly recommended. You don’t want to consume excessive amounts to disturb your hormones even more

Licorice – also contains phytoestrogens, supports the endocrine system and stimulates adrenal glands. Licorice treats menopausal and menstrual disorders

Evening primrose – nourishes the ovaries, useful for fibrocystic disease, PMS, and ovarian disorders

Red clover – contains major phytoestrogens such as biochanin, daidzein, formononetin, and genistein

DHEA – an estrogenic precursor

Dong Quai - Good for hormonal balance especially for menopausal women.

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