What is estrogen?
Estrogen is a group of sex hormones (special chemicals which instructs the target tissues on what to do) that are secreted with the sole aim of promoting development and maintenance of the female characteristics in the human body. The related hormones present in the estrogen group include; Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) and Estriol (E3) which play related functions in the body.
These hormones are known to play an essential role in the growth and development of the secondary female sexual characteristics such as the growth of pubic hair, hair in the armpit and the enlargement of the breast, and hips in the female body.
Apart from the visible functions of estrogen which are evident in the female secondary sexual characteristics, they tend to play a major function during the menstrual cycle and female reproduction where they produce an environment that is suitable for fertilization, implantation, and nutrition of an early embryo. The release of this hormone is controlled by the brain and an imbalance occurring in these hormones can trigger some health problems which may cause unwanted changes such as hot flashes and menopause in women.
Functions of Estrogen
As earlier stated, estrogen is essential in the reproductive function and cycle of a woman. The other functions are:
- Manifestation in the female secondary characteristics such as enlarged breasts and hips.
- Produces the vivid differences in the anatomy of the female body from the male.
- It is responsible for the growth of thick muscular wall in the fallopian tubes and for the contraction which transports the egg and sperm cells.
- It stimulates the growth of the vagina and increases the vaginal acidity which fights off bacterial infection.
- It influences the hair to be become fine and less pronounced thus making them more permanent.
- It causes a decrease in the voice box which makes the vocal cords shorter resulting in the females having a higher-pitched voice than their male counterparts.
- It improves the quality and thickness of the skin as well as collagen which prevents aging.
- It helps to preserve bone strength.
- It regulates the cholesterol production in the liver which helps the liver able to protect the heart and arteries.
Estrogen at all levels can be used for a range of medical purpose which includes;
- Birth control: the incorporation of estrogen in birth control pills are the most commonly used method of birth control. Estrogen is added to a combination of oral birth control pills and taken alongside progestin; a hormone.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): this utilizes estrogen from plant origin known as phytoestrogens as a replacement therapy to augment the levels of estrogen in the body. This therapy is useful during perimenopausal and menopause stages in women. Read our article on Phytoestrogens for more information on how this can be carried out.
- Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) for women at menopause. This assist woman whose uterus has been removed after attaining menopause to reduce the risks of having uterine cancer.
Maintaining a balanced level of estrogen is vital for proper reproductive health in females. Make sure you consult with your medical doctor before you engage in any form of estrogen therapy since the side effects can be deleterious.
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