The estrogen hormone is possibly the most talked about and widely known hormone of all. But it must be noted that the term ‘estrogen’ does refer to any of a group of hormones that are chemically similar.
Before it is possible to understand how the estrogen hormone works in women it is helpful to know how hormones function in general. Hormones are chemical substances that give instructions and information from one cell group to another.
Hormones in our bodies have an influence over just about every cell in organ and cell function. This involves the regulation of development, sexual function, growth and tissue function as well as the way our bodies react to emergencies, our moods and the way our bodies use the foods that we give it.
That said lets take a closer look at the estrogen hormone. The estrogenic hormones include groups of hormones that are chemically similar. These are: estradiol, estrone and estriol.
The estrogen hormone is produced in the fat tissues, adrenal glands and the ovaries and is the hormone that is responsible for the development and growth of female sexual characteristics and reproduction.
To be a little more specific estrone and estradiol are produced in the ovaries and estriol is produced during pregnancy by the placenta.
The estrogen hormone circulates through the bloodstream binding to estrogen receptors on cells that are in targeted tissues. Not only does this affect the uterus and breast but also other tissues including the heart, liver, bone and brain.
The growth of the lining of the uterus during the first part of a menstrual cycle is controlled by the estrogen hormone, as are the changes that occur in the breasts during pregnancy and adolescence. Bone growth, cholesterol levels and other metabolic processes are also controlled by the estrogen hormone.
If a woman does not become pregnant the estrogen hormone and progesterone levels drop and the uterus lining breaks which causes menstruation. Should an egg become fertilized then the estrogen hormone and progesterone will work together to stop another ovulation during the course of the pregnancy.
The estrogen hormone is used in oral contraceptives and can relieve the discomfort of menstrual pain, regulate a woman’s cycle and give some relief to women with perimenopausal symptoms. Any woman suffering from these types of problems should speak to their health care provider about estrogen therapy.
When the estrogen hormone works together with calcium, minerals and other hormones it can help to prevent bone loss. This is important for women who have come through menopause as the body at this point does break down more bone than it rebuilds.