Today I want to talk about estrogens. Estrogens are a group of hormones that essential for women’s reproductive cycle health, menstruation, and fertility. Often when women talk about estrogens they will refer to estrogen as a single hormone when actually estrogens are a group of hormones. The major hormones we are talking about when we talk about estrogens are estrone, estrodial and estriol.
When women are using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy they are also using a combination of these hormones as part of their prescription. In menstruating women estrodial is the most prevalent of the estrogen hormones. As women move past menopause the estone becomes the dominant form.
Estrogens are stimulated by the release of hormones from the brain, follicule-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Estrogens are generally produced in the ovaries by the developing follicles that are preparing to be released during ovulation. In fact estrogens levels peaking cause the egg to be released during ovulation. Estrogens are responsible for the development of female secondary sex characteristics during puberty. These include underarm and pubic hair, deposition of fat in the hips and breast area, widening and lightening of the pelvis. In women who are still ovulating estrogens have a protective function of maintaining low total cholesterol and high HDL levels. While a woman is menstruating estrogen is responsible for the thickening of the uterus wall in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant itself into that wall to be nourished until the placenta can be created. If the woman does not have a fertilized egg implant into the uterus the estrogen levels will drop along another hormone progesterone and cause the shedding of the lining which causes bleeding this is what we refer to as our period.
As women move out of their menstruating years and move into menopause the levels of estrogens that are being produced from the ovaries begin to be diminished. So less estrogen begins to be produced each month. The adrenal glands actually begin to take over the function of producing estrogen in the body.