What is it? Estrogen is is the name of a group of hormones. There are three principle forms of estrogen found in the human body: estrone, estradiol and estriol (also known as E1, E2 and E3, respectively).
Estradiol is the primary estrogen produced by the ovaries. Estrone is formed from estradiol; it is a weak estrogen, and is the most abundant estrogen found in the body after menopause. Estriol is produced in large amounts during pregnancy, and is a breakdown product of estradiol. Estriol is also a weak estrogen and is the primary form of estrogen used to treat vaginal dryness, hot flashes and night sweats. However, artificial estrogen has been found to cause multiple serious health problems, so only natural estrogen should be used for supplementation when needed.
Prior to menopause, estradiol is the predominant estrogen. After menopause, estradiol levels drop significantly, and estrone becomes the predominant estrogen.
The role of estrogen. Here are some of the functions of estrogen: It stimulates the rebuilding of the uterine lining after menstruation; it helps cells in the fallopian tubes, uterus and vagina divide and mature, and it helps to maintain the structure of the vagina and prevent atrophy. It helps to form the shape of the breasts and hips during puberty; it helps to dilate blood vessels to carry more oxygen, and helps maintain a healthy cholesterol balance. It also helps to maintain the blood supply and prevent atrophy in the urinary tract, and in the skeleton, it slows the rate of bone loss in the maturing body; in the brain, it helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and the body’s thermostat. However, please take this warning to heart: artificial estrogen is not good for you.
Estrogen imbalance. Vitamin B6 reduces blood estrogen and increases progesterone. Therefore, a deficiency of Vitamin B6 can cause decreased liver metabolism of estrogen, further causing an excess of estrogen. This then results in “estrogen dominance”. Yet another reason to take B6!
Estrogen imbalance contributes greatly to mood swings by increasing the activity of epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Norepinephrine causes hostility and irritability. Serotonin at too high a level creates nervous tension and an inability to concentrate. Dopamine, produced by the brain, balances out the effects of these substances by inducing relaxation, increasing mental alertness, and working to prevent sodium and water retention. Without sufficient dopamine, moods are greatly affected in a negative manner, and sodium and water retention increase.
Comment from Leslie
Great article and description – one thing that is not taken into consideration are the amount of estrogen mimickers in our environment (plastics, industrial solvents, household cleaning products) that also up set the estrogen cart.