ESTROGEN, PROGESTERONE, TESTOSTERONE
Estrogen is the primary female hormone. It plays a key role in the process of a girl developing into a woman and having female physical characteristics.Estrogen is responsible for the onset of menstruation, the regulation of the reproductive cycle, maintaining the endometrium (the mucous membrane that lines the uterus), the growth of breasts, as well as the sprouting of underarm and pubic hair.
In addition estrogen has an important function in supporting heart, brain, and bone health. It also nourishes hair, skin, pelvic muscles, the urinary tract, mucous membranes and blood vessels.
The ovaries produce the bulk of the estrogen in the female body, however the adrenals glands as well as fat cells may also produce low levels of estrogen.Yet adrenal glands and fat cells cannot compensate for the estrogen loss resulting from Surgical Menopause.
There are 3 different kinds of estrogen that the body produces: Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) and Estriol (E3). It is essential to understand the difference between these estrogens and how they work in the body, as it will assist you in deciding which HRT estrogen is right for you.
Estrone (also known as E1): Estrone is the estrogen that is produced following menopause. It is one of the weaker forms of estrogen, as it is made in tiny quantities from fat and muscle throughout the body. Estrone can be converted to Estradiol in the body. Because Estrone is considered to be less robust, some believe it to be safer to take. However much higher doses of Estrone must be taken to achieve the same benefits as taking Estradiol, therefore Estrone winds up being no safer than Estradiol.
Estradiol (also known as E2): Estradiol is the estrogen produced in the childbearing years. It is considered the strongest and most powerful of the three estrogens as it has the most far-reaching estrogen effects in the female body. It is the estrogen responsible for keeping a woman looking and feeling youthful. Estradiol is the primary estrogen produced by the ovaries as well as the placenta during pregnancy, although small amounts of it are also made by the adrenals and converted from precursor hormones in fat.
Estriol (also known as E3): Estriol is the estrogen that is produced at much higher levels when a woman is pregnant. It is known as a weaker form of estrogen as it has weaker estrogenic effects in the body. While there is still some debate about this, Estriol is thought to present a decreased cancer risk because of its lack of potency. Estriol has a much lower stimulating effect on the uterine lining and breast tissues. When Estriol binds itself to an estrogen receptor it will block the stronger Estradiol from binding to those cells.
The woman’s ovaries produce two main sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone can also be produced in low levels by the adrenal glands, as well as by the placenta when a woman is carrying a child. Progesterone is a precursor steroid hormone meaning that is a precursor to many other steroid hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. Most people think of estrogen when they think of female hormones, however progesterone plays a key role in how a woman’s body functions too.
For women who are in their child bearing years, progesterone is the important catalyst that gets the endometrium to release proteins that prepare the body for pregnancy and later, in maintaining that pregnancy.
Progesterone has many other uses in the body that do not pertain to pregnancy: Progesterone causes bone building, and thus helps prevent against Osteoporosis and osteopenia. Progesterone regulates blood sugar and increases brain activity. Progesterone converts body fat into energy, which helps you maintain a healthier weight. Progesterone aids in regulating the thyroid’s hormone function. Progesterone boosts libido. Progesterone assists you in falling asleep and is considered to be a natural anti-depressant as is turns on our GABA Receptors, which calm the body.
In Surgical Menopause, as women no longer have their ovaries to produce it, progesterone levels drop to almost nothing. Women who keep their uterus and supplement their estrogen through ERT (Estrogen Replacement Therapy) must additionally supplement progesterone in order to prevent against breast and uterine cancers; which can be caused by taking unopposed estrogen.However many women who have their uterus removed find progesterone replacement therapy to be quite beneficial as it helps with sleep, weight gain, and other side effects from Surgical Menopause.
Testosterone isn’t just for men. Recent studies have shown that women also have testosterone receptors. The ovaries produce testosterone, and the adrenals have the ability to take hormone precursors and turn them into testosterone. Women who have had their ovaries removed can find that the adrenal testosterone production isn’t enough to meet their overall needs.
Testosterone deficiency can lead to lower libido, loss of muscle mass, hair loss, and a decreased sense of overall well being. However, over-supplementation of testosterone can cause some serious consequences to your health. In excess or imbalance, testosterone can cause irritability and/or aggression. Testosterone is also well known to cause masculine type symptoms when used in excess, such as unwanted hair growth, deepening of the voice, clitoral enlargement, and acne.
When used in the correct balance with estrogen and progesterone, testosterone can have some great benefits for women. It can help increase libido; although libido isn’t entirely dependent on it. It increases both bone strength and density, and helps to improve mood as well as a sense of well being. In addition, it can build muscle mass and thicken the skin. It improves stamina, balance, hand-eye coordination, and has a protective effect against plaque buildup in the blood vessels.
Out of the three main hormones, Testosterone has the highest risk of serious side effects when used out of balance or in excess. This results in testosterone being a double sided blade: beneficial when used properly in the correct doses, and unhealthy when taken in excess.