Hormones play an important role in a woman’s reproductive health and sexual life. These regulate menstruation, menopause, fertility, and sex drive (libido). The hormones that affect the menstrual cycle and fertility of a woman are produced by glands in the brain and by the ovaries.
Hypothalamus is that part of the brain that produces GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) that triggers the pituitary gland to release two other hormones such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH and LH then start the process of ovulation (egg release) in the ovaries. During this process, the ovaries produce hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These hormones prepare the uterus for pregnancy and if any of the hormones are out of balance during the menstrual cycle, then the result can be irregular or missed periods.
Role of estrogen hormones in a woman’s body:
Estrogen hormones play a vital role in the sexual and reproductive development in women. These hormones are also known as sex hormones. Basically, ovaries of the women produce estrogen, which helps in regulating the menstrual cycle, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels, pelvic muscles, bones, breasts, skin, hair, and the brain. Pubic and armpit hair begins to grow when estrogen levels increase. There are various effects of estrogen on different body parts, which are mentioned below:
- Brain- Estrogen helps the body to maintain its temperature and also delays memory loss. Additionally, estrogen helps in regulating parts of the brain that prepare the body for sexual and reproductive development.
- Breast- Estrogen helps in the development of the breasts at the puberty stage and also prepares the gland for future milk production.
- Bone- Bone density is preserved by the estrogen hormones.
- Heart and liver- Estrogen hormones regulate the cholesterol production in the liver, which results in the depletion of build-up plaque in the coronary arteries.
- Uterus- Estrogen stimulates the maturation of the uterus and also helps it in nourishing the development of the fetus.
- Ovary- Estrogen hormones stimulate the start of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and also indicate that a girl’s reproductive system has matured.
- Vagina- Estrogen stimulates the maturation of the vagina and helps in maintaining it lubricates and thicker lining.
Also Read: Menorrhagia: Menstrual Disorder in women
What happens when there is imbalance in estrogen levels?
Hormones play a very important role in the women’s life. These have to be in balance and if there is any sort of imbalance occur then problem happens. It has been stated in various studies that excessive estrogen hormones are the major cause of women’s health problems including breast, uterine and ovarian cancers.
Liver helps in removing estrogens, whereas a weak liver fails to remove estrogens efficiently, which may lead to liver accumulation. Excessive estrogen hormones in the uterus, ovary, or breast comes to the stagnation point, then they over stimulate cell division and lead to abnormal growth of cysts or cancer in these organs.
Symptoms of hormone imbalance:
Estrogen hormones are referred to as good hormones for women. When these hormones begin to decline in the mid to late 20′s of a woman’s life, hormones continue to decline for the remainder of her life. This estrogen decline in woman’s body causes hormone imbalance, and leads to many symptoms, which she experiences as she enter her menopause. Below are some of the symptoms women experiences as a consequence unbalanced estrogen hormones:
- Mood instability (mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability)
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Skin changes
- Hot flashes
- Memory loss
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
Complications of estrogen:
Excess of estrogen hormone levels and stagnation of blood circulation are main causes of most women’s problems including breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. In various researches it has been stated that estrogen dominance is the major cause of most women’s chronic health problems. Below are some of the complications women face are mentioned below:
PMS is generally a common problem among women, which is caused by high estrogen to progesterone ratio. Some of the common symptoms of PMS include mood swings, depression and bloating are all signs of estrogen dominance.
Basically, women with PMS can have evening primrose oil as supplement as these contain estrogenic activity, which offers quick relief from PMS symptoms. Longer term usage of evening primrose oil may aggravate the problems.
Amenorrhea- Absence or abnormal stoppage of menstruation:
Amenorrhea problem is associated with various common causes of modern day living. These include congenital abnormalities, metabolic diseases (thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, adrenal hyperplasia), pituitary insufficiency, undernourishment, severe infections or hormone abnormalities. Large amounts of estrogen prevents menstruation for a long period of time. Estrogens in pesticide sprays (environmental estrogens) on fruits and vegetables, and meat and dairy products mimic estrogens in bodies when ingested. Due to these hormonal abnormalities, amenorrhea occurs nowadays and a weak liver fails to eliminate all the ingested estrogens, which is very much responsible for hormonal abnormalities.
Various products and supplements for women are available on online portals and health websites, which can be used to induce menstruation by cleansing the liver and eliminating estrogens efficiently.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):
PCOS is another leading complication of infertility due to the excessive estrogen levels. Increased number of estrogen hormone levels are the indications of a weak liver.
Medical treatment including medication like Clomiphene, which is an anti-estrogen drug helps in treating the symptoms, not the problems. Moreover, nausea, headache, breast tenderness and sometimes blurred vision are some of the possible side-effects of this drug.
Womens’ weight problems:
Estrogen hormones and the liver both have important roles in the women’s body. Sluggish metabolism due to stagnant liver produce excess estrogen, which leads to weight gain. When the liver fails to eliminate estrogens from the body, then the excessive estrogens produce fat cell production usually around the lower abdominal area and upper thigh.
It has been reported in a study that daily morning exercises along with effective supplements prescribed by the doctor may play an improtant role in treating this problem.
This therapy includes estrogen and other hormones, which are given to the postmenopausal women in order to prevent osteoporosis. HRT is also given to the postmenopausal women in order to treat the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, urinary stress incontinence, chilly sensations, vaginal dryness, dizziness, fatigue, and sweating. After performing this therapy, women have decreased the risk of fractures of the spine, wrist, and hips by 50–70% and increases the spinal bone density by 5%.
The increased risk of hormone therapy vary, whether the estrogen hormone is given alone or with a progestin. It totally depends on your current age and age at menopause, health risks such as your risks of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, cancer risks and family medical history, and the dose and type of estrogen.
Along with the complications and their treatment or management, some side effects can be serious and if you experience any of the mentioned symptoms then rush to your doctor immediately. These include bulging eyes, loss of appetite, weakness, yellowing of the skin or eyes, pain, swelling, or tenderness in the stomach, joint pain, rash or blisters, hives, itching, and swelling of the eyes, face, throat, hands, arms, ankles, or lower legs.
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