What is Estrogen?
The primary group of sex hormones in the female body is called estrogen or oestrogen. These chemical messengers influence the structural differences between male and female bodies making them responsible for the development of the female characteristics such as breasts, hair in the pubic and armpit areas, and wider hips. Estrogen works with other hormones, such as progesterone, to regulate the menstrual cycle and reproductive system. It is also the reason why females have more permanent hair on their heads.
Estrogen is produced mainly in the ovaries, the primary female reproductive organ where the ova or eggs are produced. During puberty, the ovaries start to release estrogen hormones aligned with monthly menstrual cycles. During the first half of each menstrual cycle, estrogen suddenly rises which triggers the ova to be produced for a suitable environment for fertilization, implantation, and nutrition of an early embryo. After ovulation, estrogen levels quickly decrease until the next monthly cycle begins.
In addition to the female reproductive system, estrogen is also involved in the development of many other bodily systems. As it travels through the bloodstream, it sends messages or instructions to these parts. Estrogen has an impact on the brain by maintaining body temperature and enhancing mood. It also preserves bone strength and prevents bone loss. Benefits also include cholesterol regulation and cardiovascular protection. To prevent aging, estrogen improves collagen and the quality of the skin.
Cause or Possible Cause of High Estrogen
While normal estrogen can vary amongst women, levels can rise too much causing irregular bodily functions. This imbalance is called estrogen dominance and can lead to a wide range of health issues, as well as undesirable physical changes. The following factors can lead to an estrogen spike:
What Estrogen Dominance Does to the Body
High estrogen can create a vast array of symptoms. Following is a list of symptoms of estrogen dominance.
What Happens as Estrogen Dominance Progresses
If an estrogen imbalance or dominance is allowed to progress, major diseases may overtake the body:
Risk Influence for Estrogen Dominance
Not only do menopausal women experience estrogen fluctuations. Estrogen dominance can also affect children going through puberty, as well as adult women not going through menopause. Men can even be affected. However, overweight, obese, and postmenopausal women are at the most risk for high estrogen levels.
Estrogen (and progesterone) levels decline gradually in women with age, but an imbalance remains for many. Typically, this decline takes place during perimenopause and menopause, usually around the ages of 35 to 50. During this time, progesterone is reduced by 75 percent while estrogen only declines about 35 percent. By menopause, total progesterone is extremely low, and estrogen is still present in the body by about half of its pre-menopausal level. This imbalance places women in this category of higher risk for estrogen dominance.
Conventional Treatment for Estrogen Dominance
In conventional medicine, estrogen dominance is usually treated with prescription medications such as hormone therapy. For those with estrogen-linked cancers, estrogen-blocking medications like Tamoxifen may be prescribed. Alternatively, a type of medication that stops the enzyme aromatase from converting androgens into estrogens, called aromatase inhibitor, may be prescribed. For cancers that are sensitive to estrogen, an oophorectomy may be recommended; this is a type of surgery that removes the ovaries which is the main producer of estrogen.
Choose Natural Remedies for Treating High Estrogen...
Because most pharmaceuticals have side effects that may cause other health problems, alternative medicine encourages a combination of lifestyle changes. This includes the incorporation of a nutrient-dense, non-genetically modified, and certified organic diet. Avoiding foods high in phytonutrients, processed foods, sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, and xenoestrogens will help keep your hormones balanced. Finally, a combination of botanical medicines and nutritional supplements will support the body by helping it detox and repair.
*** You may also want to read my article Risk of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Often Prescribed for Menopause.