Today I want to talk to you about what estrogen does in your body and what happens if you produce either too much or too little of it.
I’m sure this is just what you are thinking about when you woke up this morning. LOL!!
Estrogen doesn’t just refer to one particular hormone; it’s actually a term used to describe several different female sex hormones that have a similar chemical makeup. These include estradiol, estrone and estriol.
For women, most of the estrogens in the body are produced by the ovaries but are also made in lesser amounts in the adrenal glands. Estrogen is generally thought of as a female hormone but men also produce some too.
At puberty, estrogen is involved in developing breasts, pubic hair and other female sex characteristics. It’s also a big factor in a regular menstrual cycle. Every month, the pituitary gland secretes hormones that encourage the release of an egg. Estrogen helps the lining of the uterus to thicken to prepare for ovulation and in case you get pregnant. If this doesn’t happen, levels of estrogen (and progesterone, another sex hormone) drop and the lining breaks down.
If pregnancy does happen, estrogen is responsible for getting the milk ducts ready for breastfeeding and affects prolactin, the main hormone linked to lactation).
Estrogen is also important for healthy bones and helps the body to break down and rebuild bone. This is one of the big reasons why bone strength can weaken after menopause as estrogen levels drop. During post menopause, lots of women find that they break down more bone than they rebuild, which is why osteoporosis can become more likely.
As you can see, estrogen has some pretty important roles in the body, especially for women. What happens if your levels are unbalanced?
Normally, estrogen is the major hormone in the two weeks before ovulation and this is then balanced out with progesterone for the other two weeks. From around the age of 40, women can start moving into the perimenopause and this can have a massive impact on hormone balance. Ovulation won’t happen every month and when it doesn’t occur, estrogen can begin to dominate completely. This can be exaggerated by poor diet, chronic stress, low immunity and environmental factors.
It can lead to symptoms such as irregular periods, bloating, swollen/tender breasts, premenstrual headaches, mood swings, weight gain (especially around the hips and belly), hair loss, brain fog, fuzzy thinking, sleep problems and tiredness.
I experienced many of these symptoms myself when I was going through perimenopause. My goal is to help you to make it through all the hormone related transitions of life as easily as possible.
So how do you keep estrogen in check?
- Healthy fats, plenty of vegetables and a moderate amount of protein can help to balance hormones. Get plenty of fiber too!
- Keep to a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
- Don’t overstress your liver with heaps of caffeine, alcohol and other toxins.
- Manage stress levels
I speak about each one of these hormone balancing tips and more inside my DIY Hormone Help for Women Programs. You can check them out by clicking here.