Friday, April 10, 2009

Estrogen hormones

Estrogens are the female sex hormones which are vital for the growth and development of a female. Estrogen is made up of three naturally occurring hormones namely estradiol, estriol and estrone. Estradiol is the most common estrogen.

Estrogen hormones are primarily produced in the ovaries and placenta during pregnancy. The ovary is under the control of the brain. When the brain releases certain stimulating factors, estrogen is synthesized. Estrogens are also synthesized in small amounts in the liver, adrenal gland and breast. Following menopause, these sites are responsible for the low levels of estrogen in the body.

The levels of the estrogen hormones vary throughout the menstrual cycle, with the levels peaking just before ovulation.

Most people think that estrogen hormones are only present in females. Not so; even men make small amounts of estrogen in the liver. Estrogen hormones are important for the development of the female secondary sexual features like breasts, thickening of the uterus lining, regulating the menstrual cycle, body fat, libido and help mature sperm. Estrogen hormones also have other physiological activities such as reducing bone breakdown and increase the good cholesterol (HDL). Estrogen hormones protect females from heart attacks.

When estrogen levels start to decline, women start to develop osteoporosis, suffer menopause symptoms and become prone to heart attacks and other health. Women who have low estrogen after menopause often develop fractures of the spine, wrist and hip. These fractures can be reduced by more than 70% in women who take estrogen during and after menopause. It is best take natural bioidentical hormones when taking estrogen and it should be used with natural progesterone.

The use of natural bioidentical estrogen hormones are also used to treat a variety of symptoms seen after menopause. This includes treatment of vaginal itching, vaginal dryness and atrophy.

Estrogens also can reduce acne which is resistant to the standard anti acne treatments.
The biggest concern with estrogen therapy after menopause is that women can develop uterine or breast cancer. Further estrogens taken alone can also increase the risk of developing blood clots in the legs. Estrogen should also be taken with natural progesterone.

Today, short term estrogen therapy is deemed safe but long term therapy must be closely monitored and should be used in combination with progesterone.

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