Estrogen is one the female sex hormones though men make some of it as well. Here’s a tidbit that may surprise you. The average 55-year-old male makes more estrogen than the average 55-year-old female. Couple that with a decrease in testosterone in men and you might see where the male mid-life crisis has in part a biological basis. But this talk is for the women. So what are the functions of estrogen?
Below are the major functions of estrogen. There are actually about 400 functions of estrogen. Though we speak of estrogen as a single hormone it is actually of family of hormones of which there are three main estrogens the human female produces. They are called estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Biologically estradiol is the most important and potent estrogen.
Estriol is a weak estrogen that is commonly used in the compounding of bioidentical hormones along with estradiol. Estriol helps maintain the vaginal lining and protects against breast cancer.
Estradiol is approximately 80 times more potent than estriol. It provides cardiovascular and bone benefits, maintains memory, and increases serotonin levels (anti-depressant effects). It provides most of the benefits we think of when we think of estrogen.
Estrone is the main estrogen made in menopause and high levels may predispose to breast cancer as estriol levels fall. During menopause less estradiol and estriol are produced.
Take a close look at these functions. So when women lose estrogen the opposite of these functions take root.
Now, if you’re peri-menopausal or post-menopausal you can now explain some of the changes you have seen in yourself as you make your through this biological transition. It should be no surprise that many women gain weight, develop more heart disease (10 years later than men), have mental fogginess, get hot flashes and night sweats, develop wrinkles, loss muscle, loss bone, lose teeth, lose sexual desire, lose balance, lose energy, struggle to sleep, and other changes as they go through menopause.
But, through HRT much of these changes can be averted or minimized. But, that’s a choice you must make.
Functions of Estrogen
- Increases metabolic rate
- Increases blood flow
- Increases reasoning and new ideas
- Improves concentration
- Increases water content of skin
- Increases HDL levels 10-15%
- Increases sexual interest
- Helps prevent muscle damage
- Helps maintain muscle
- Helps maintain bone mass
- Helps maintain elasticity of blood vessels
- Helps maintain memory
- Helps with fine motor skills
- Helps prevent glaucoma
- Helps prevent tooth loss
- Enhances magnesium uptake and utilization
- Enhances production of nerve-growth factor
- Enhances energy
- Improves insulin sensitivity (blood sugar control)
- Improves sleep
- Improves mood
- Maintains the amount of collagen in the skin
- Maintains bone density
- Decreases blood pressure
- Decreases accumulation of plaque in arteries
- Decreases LDL and prevents its oxidation
- Decreases lipoprotein (a) (risk factor for heart disease)
- Decreases wrinkles
- Decreases risk of colon cancer
- Reduces risk of cataracts
- Reduces overall risk of heart disease 40-50%
- Reduces homocysteine (risk factor for heart disease)
- Regulates body temperature
- Stimulates production of choline acetyltransferace (Alzheimer’s disease prevention)
- Dilates small arteries
- Inhibits platelet stickiness
- Acts as natural calcium channel blocker to keep arteries open
- Protects against macular degeneration
- Aids in formation of neurotransmitters in brain such as serotonin.
Protect your health and maintain your quality of life as you age. Consider bioidentical hormone replacement.
i took estradiol for 10 years post hysterectomy but then my Gyn told me I should get off it. You mention a lot of benefits, but are there contraindications as well? I think I was told I would be at higher risk for some kind of cancer? Can an elderly woman start taking it.?
First, even though you had a hysterectomy we would suggest you also be on progesterone. Many docs believe you don’t progesterone (protects against endometrial cancer) if you had a hysterectomy but you have progesterone receptors throughout the body. It is generally recommeneded that if you have had a personal history of breast cancer that you not receive estrogen or blood clots, but that is beginning to change for women who have been cancer year for 5 plus years. Older women (ten plus years post menopausal are at increased risk for heart disease in studies that have used CEEs (Premarin). The risk of heart disease is higher from oral estrogens that transdermal because of effects on the liver from oral forms. We believe that BIOIDENTICAL hormone replacement can be given long-term (indefinitely) with close monitoring including periodic measurement of hormone levels and adjusting dose of hormones accordinly and when all hormones are being balanced together. It is wise even with older women on bioidentical estrogen to be evaluated for pre-existing heart disease prior to startin BHRT – 10 years post menopausal seems to be the magic number for that. Hope that helps.
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