From the moment you begin puberty, and often before you even know what’s happening, your hormones take control. If you’re a woman, especially, due to your monthly cycle the ebb and flow of hormones coursing through your system can impact your life in many ways. From menstruation and pregnancy to perimenopause, menopause, and beyond, your hormones maintain much of your body’s function.
Although present in both sexes, estrogen is considered the “female hormone,” probably because women produce more of it and depend on it for reproductive function. But estrogen controls so much more than just your ability to conceive. Throughout your life, your body depends on estrogen to keep it healthy and going strong.
Women’s health is our purpose
The Association for Women’s Health Care is familiar with a woman’s need to maintain balance in life, and in her hormones. Hormones that are out of whack can wreak havoc, causing hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and similarly uncomfortable conditions. Our dedicated physicians strive to help our patients achieve balance in their health and their hormones.
The Association for Women’s Health Care, with offices in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois, is determined to make our patients’ experience a positive one. For women, your lifelong good health depends largely on your gynecological care, and our team takes that responsibility seriously.
3 types of estrogen
Depending on your season of life, your body produces different types and amounts of estrogen in an effort to maintain balance. The types of estrogen and their primary function are:
- Estradiol: Also known as E3, it’s present in women between puberty and the onset of menopause. The amount your ovaries produces can go up or down, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.
- Estrone: Also known as E1, it’s present in its greatest amounts during those same childbearing years as estradiol. During that time, it’s second only to E3 in amount produced. Although production diminishes after menopause shuts down your ovaries, it’s still produced by your body to a small degree.
- Estriol: The pregnancy estrogen, it’s produced to support placenta and fetal development.
How estrogen affects your whole health
Estrogen affects your overall health, throughout your life. In fact, estrogen does much more than you’ve probably even thought of. Here are the major roles estrogen plays in women’s health:
- Puberty and sexual development: Estrogen is responsible for the development of your reproductive system. The anatomy of your vagina and uterus is dependent on this busy hormone. Pubic hair, the hair under your arms, and the development of your breasts are all thanks to estrogen.
- Menstrual cycle: Having your regular monthly period may not always be fun, but it’s a positive sign of your health as a woman and your ability to conceive a child. Estrogen builds the lining of the uterus in anticipation of pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, estrogen enables you to shed the lining of your uterus via your period.
- Healthy bones: The development of your bones is owed to estrogen. As you age, estrogen works to protect your bones against loss of mass. Once you enter menopause and your estrogen production decreases, the loss of bone mass increases. You become at-risk for osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures, severely impacting your quality of life and healthy aging.
- Healthy heart: You may be familiar with post-menopausal women who are on hormone replacement therapy in an effort to protect their cardiovascular health. That’s because once menopause hits and your estrogen levels drop, your risk for heart disease goes up. Estrogen plays a major role in heart health. This helpful hormone keeps blood vessels healthy and pliant, controls cholesterol, and prevents increased inflammation, a huge threat to heart health.
- Your mood: Estrogen boosts the production of the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin balances your mood. That’s why, when estrogen levels drop, in postpartum or menopause, many women suffer from depression.
Make sure you’re living a balanced life
Estrogen is one powerful hormone. To keep your body and brain healthy, it’s essential that your estrogen levels are balanced. This may require hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The doctors at The Association for Women’s Health Care can help you find out if you’re a candidate for HRT. If you suspect your estrogen may not be in balance, or if you’re experiencing symptoms of menopause and would like to get them under control, contact The Association for Women’s Health Care for an appointment.