How much do you really know about estrogen?
Let’s talk today about the basics of estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that controls a woman’s monthly cycle. Well it does a lot more for you then that, but we are going to stick with the basics.
Estrogen triggers the changes in a woman’s body as she goes through puberty and has her first period. Once she has become a woman, the estrogen works in a number of ways, including:
- helping control the menstrual cycle
- maintaining fertility
- protecting bone health by affecting the way calcium is used in the body
- keeping cholesterol under control.
Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries, the organs that produce a woman’s eggs throughout the years she is fertile. The levels will peak in the middle of her cycle, when she is ovulating, and drop to their lowest point during her period.
It is important to note that estrogen is produced in other places in the body as well. One is in the adrenal glands, the small glands just above the kidneys, most noted for making the hormone adrenalin, which gives us the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress.
Fat cells also create estrogen. Once it is created, estrogen is transported to the body’s tissues through the blood. Too much can also lead to hormonal imbalance and weight gain.
During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen levels start to drop. This results in irregular cycles and fewer of them. It can also lead to hot flashes, insomnia and low libido. Mood swings and dry skin are also a problem.
High estrogen levels can cause weight gain, menstrual changes, and severe PMS symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings. Cysts in the breasts and fibroids in the uterus can be triggered by high estrogen levels.
Estrogen is actually a convenient short-hand term for three different types of hormone, all related to one another but appearing at levels at different times of life:
1. Estradiol, common in childbearing women;
2. Estriol, produced during pregnancy;
3. Estrone, produced after menopause.
Estrogen levels have an important part to play in fertility, but the only way to know your estrogen levels is to have them checked. I think the best test is the DUTCH Test. I have worked with thousands of women to test their hormones. Once you really know what is going on, the path to hormone balance becomes clearer.
Many women, once they discover they have an estrogen imbalance, in particular low estrogen, wonder if estrogen replacement should be considered.
There are some things you need to know, before you jump on the hormone replacement bandwagon.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which was developed in the 1980s to help women going through menopause deal with the more troublesome symptoms of it, such as hot flashes, night sweats and ‘brain fog’. HRT was also thought to lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers, though recent research has called this into question.
HRT containing estrogen is available in pills, patches, creams and gels. The latter may seem safer because they are not being taken orally.
Risk of side effects of HRT include certain forms of cancer and perhaps heart health issues.
The full benefits and risks of HRT are currently unclear. Weigh the pros and cons to make an informed choice. Match it to your current level of symptoms and to your overall health, including your health history. For example, if you have had female-related cancer, or a family history of them, HRT would not be recommended.
If you are not in good overall health, start to exercise, eat right and take better care of yourself and see if this relieves your most troublesome symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. If you do decide to get estrogen replacement therapy, take it at the lowest dose for symptom relief and hormone support.
My approach to supporting hormones at every phase of life:
- Test – Don’t Guess! If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance, the first place to start is with a hormone test.
- Get to the root cause of what is triggering the hormone imbalance.
- Support hormone balance with healthy lifestyle choices
- Address the stress. One new medical device that may help is Apollo. Check it out here.
- Consider natural options to support your hormones.
In the Path to Hormone Health Group Program I take you step-by-step through the process of understanding your hormones, testing, and support.
If you have any questions or thoughts feel free to reach out at any time. If you are ready to take the next step and take a more active role in your hormone health, schedule a free Hormone Relief Discovery Call to learn more about the Path to Hormone Health Group Program. No pressure, no obligation.
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