When people mention estrogen they are more often than not referring to estradiol which is the major form of oestrogen in both men and pre-menopausal women. Today we will talk about estradiol which is the hormone that has the most wide-ranging effects on both woman and men.
What is estrogen?
It’s actually a catch-all type term for a number of chemicals with similar functions and shapes such as estradiol (E2) or estrone (E3). During a females reproductive years her estradiol levels are higher than other estrogens. During menopause however these estradiol levels decrease with the bulk of the woman’s estrogen content coming from E3 and E1. This is important as it is the E2 that the woman’s ovaries pump out and this is what has the biggest effect on her reproducing years – sending fat stores to the hips and thighs rather than to the abdomen. It is the decrease in E2 during menopause that leads to an increase of abdominal fat.
Estrogen is also responsible for maturing the female sex organs and the growth of the uterus. In males while testosterone is responsible for the male reproductive organs estrogens inhibits the death of cells in sperm cells.
Estrogen actually inhibits growth and has been used effectively to stop girls growing too tall. It is also a major part of bone development for males and females and can lead to poor done density as women age as they become unable to produce normal amounts of estrogen. Estrogen replacement therapy usually assists and rectifies the bone density problem.
Women suffering from clinical depression have been found to produce less estrogen – but more testosterone, than normal with estrogen replacement therapy helping their condition. Men who suffer from depression actually produce far more estrogen than normal. Women also have an increase in function of their atherosclerotic arteries which could help explain the increase in heart conditions in pre-menopausal women.
Estrogen has reduced the formation of amyloidal plaque that occurs in the brain of Alzheimer patients. In as many as 80% of breast cancer cases estrogen receptor sites rely on estrogen for fuel, with a rather common treatment for this type of breast cancer being to suppress the production of estrogen. Research has shown that males who received high levels of estrogen whilst in the womb are at greater risk of developing prostate and testicular cancer as adults.
Estrogen is very useful and can reduce strength and lean muscle mass while still promoting body fat accumulation with estrogen-dominant males often being obese and under-muscled. It is the large dose of estrogen that throws off the delicate hormonal balance and cause problems. While stunting a Childs growth might sound negative when you first hear about it, unchecked growth can have terrible consequences for the Child's health.
Both males and females need and produce estrogen for a reason as it has some very important uses within the human body. The problems lie in the unnatural amounts of the hormone within the body . Estrogen is essential for both women and men but imbalances – especially in post-menopausal women and in men can lead to muscle loss and fat gain.
Have you had your levels tested? If you've had an imbalance, please share your experience in the comments below – you never know who you might help out!