Oestrogen is not a single hormone; it is a group of hormones that play an important role in the development of men and women’s sexual and reproductive health.
Which Hormones make up Oestrogens?
- Oestrone (E1): is an oestrogenic hormone secreted by the ovaries as well as adipose tissue. It is the main form of oestrogen in postmenopausal women.
- Oestradiol (E2): is produced by the ovaries using cholesterol and is the main oestrogen secreted before periods cease (menopause). It is also produced by the adrenal glands. It is responsible for building up the lining of the uterus. It is known as a strong oestrogen with a powerful effect on oestrogen receptors.
- Oestriol (E3): is a relatively weak natural oestrogenic hormone and is one of the metabolic products of oestradiol. It is the main oestrogen produced during pregnancy.
In women, oestrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells. In men, it is produced mainly in the adrenal glands. Oestrogen can affect both men and women; however, it is largely responsible for female physical features and reproduction. Ladies, you may remember going through puberty and seeing your breasts develop, pubic and armpit hair grow and starting your menstruation cycle. This is a result of rising oestrogen levels. Whilst oestrogen is mainly involved in puberty and reproduction, it also affects the urinary tract, cardiovascular health, bones, breasts, skin, hair and even the brain. And that’s not all! Oestrogen also plays a role in:
- Formation of female secondary sex characteristics
- Acceleration of metabolism
- Reduction of muscle mass
- Increase of fat stores
- Stimulation of endometrial growth
- Increase of uterine growth
- Increase of vaginal lubrication
- Thickening of the vaginal wall
- Maintenance of vessels and skin
- Increase of bone formation
- Promotion of heart health
For many reasons, your body can make too much or too little oestrogen. One may even take in too much oestrogen via certain foods and medication. When this happens, hormones can become imbalanced and symptoms can persist.
Excess oestrogen, also called oestrogen dominance, can cause:
- Fluid retention
- Loss of libido
- Low thyroid function
- Low progesterone
- Memory loss
- Migraine headaches
- Heavy and painful menstruations
- Hot flushes
- Weight gain
- Oestrogen dominant conditions such as: uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and cancer
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Breast growth in men
Do some of these symptoms sound familiar? What is most surprising is we put up with many of these symptoms, simply putting them down to our impending menstruation. However, in reality, they are just signs that our hormones are imbalanced.
Not only can you be oestrogen dominant, you can also suffer because of low levels of oestrogen. Symptoms include:
- Brain fog
- Painful intercourse
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning of vaginal wall
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Low libido in men
- Excess belly fat in men
Brain fog, vaginal dryness and loss of libido are commonly associated with ageing. If that’s the case, please take me to the fountain of youth! Luckily, many of these signs are subtle or not-so-subtle indications that our hormones may not be functioning up to par, and there are tweaks we can make to overcome them. Grab yourself a copy of Hack your Hormones and head to the ‘WTF is up with my Cycle? Chapter. Here you will learn all about how to detox your oestrogen and how you can support healthy levels.