A hormone that plays an important role in the functioning of males, as well as females, is estrogen. A majority of the sexual functions and reproductive health in women is controlled by this, and thus any irregularities in the levels can be a cause for concern. In this article, you will know everything there is to about the sex hormone, the role it plays, the levels for optimal functioning, and what should be done when the levels spike.
What is estrogen?
It has three forms which are crucial to understanding how it works. These forms are:
- Estrone (E1): There are three sources that produce this form of the hormone. These are the adrenal glands, the ovaries and the adipose tissue. It is prevalent in women who have stopped menstruating ie. those who are in their postmenopausal phase.
- Estradiol (E2): This is the strongest form and plays a crucial role in the menstrual cycle of women, the maturation of the egg, its release, the implantation into the uterus lining and preparation of the uterus lining to be receptive for this. An increase in the levels can be harmful to women as it leads to a decrease in sex drive and even be a precursor for breast cancer.
- Estriol (E3): The weakest form is actually protective against various forms of cancers in women.
What is the role of estrogen in women’s health?
The hormone is vital in females. Some of the functions are:
- Secondary sexual characteristics in women develop when the levels of estrogen rise. These characteristics include rounded hips, breast tissue, and menstrual cycle.
- Growth of the uterus lining during the menstrual cycle for the implantation of the egg
- Thickening of the vaginal wall
- Bone health and bone formation
- Stimulate platelet production
- Enhances the production of certain proteins
- Decrease the bad cholesterol levels LDL and thus help in heart health
- Levels are important for the control of breast cancer
- Improves skin texture and glow by increasing blood supply to the skin and improving collagen production
- Reduces inflammation through the body
The role of estrogen in men is:
- Plays a role in modulating the sex drive
- Spermatogenesis or the production of sperm and their development
- Plays a role in erectile function
What is estrogen dominance?
There are many hormones that play vital roles in the functioning of women and men. It is optimal for these to be balanced. If there is an imbalance in the levels, if estrogen is in high amounts, or if it overpowers progesterone, this leads to estrogen dominance. This condition can cause a long term domino effect on various other aspects of health.
The causes are:
- Imbalance in insulin and cortisol: These are the principal hormones responsible for stress and blood sugar. Thus an imbalance in these can have a direct effect on the other hormones and can lead to an increase in the levels
- Skincare and cosmetic personal care products: Parabens and other chemical compounds known as benzophenones are known to cause a disruption in estrogen levels. This is because their structure mimics the hormones of the body and thus they can bind to the receptors with ease, causing an imbalance
- Hormone replacement therapy: This therapy involves taking supplements that lead to an increase in estrogen and a decrease in progesterone. This causes a dominance of the former
- Pesticides: The chemical compounds in certain pesticides can lead to the condition and cancers in humans. A common example of this is Glyphosate
- Weight gain: Since some amount of the hormone is produced by the fat cells, the more weight one gains, the more estrogen they have. Weight loss may help
- Animals that have been given hormones to increase meat production
- Genetics: The DNA of certain people comprise SNPs. These are single nucleotide polymorphisms, that are genetic variations among people. These dispose some to the condition
How is estrogen metabolised in the body?
A great way to get rid of the excess hormone is by detoxification processes. There are certain metabolic pathways present in the body that get rid of the excess estrogen. These are as follows:
- 60% to 80% of the estrone that is present in the body is metabolised through this pathway and it is effective in lowering the risk for conditions resulting from the dominance
- Hydroxylation occurs first making the estrone ready for oxidation
- However, this step also renders it more toxic
- In the next step, methylation occurs where the toxic molecules are prepared to be eliminated from the body
- Through this pathway, the toxic compounds are converted into forms that can be easily eliminated
- Similar to the pathway above, the steps occur. However, instead of methylation, the conversion to estriol occurs
- Instead of waste products, metabolites of estrogen are produced
- One of the most dangerous and risky pathways
- The toxic molecule produced by hydroxylation is meant to be methylated, and this can reduce the toxicity of these molecules
- If methylation does not occur properly, the toxic molecules are converted into quinones which are precursors of cancer
- This harmful conversion occurs in people who are genetically susceptible to the condition
How to test for a common hormone imbalance?
The Adrenal Cortex Female Hormone Saliva Test is one of the most effective ways of measuring hormone levels. A non-invasive test, gives a profile of the levels of E1, E2 and E3. The test also measures the levels of cortisol and other adrenal cortex hormones.
Once Naturopath Domenic Pisanelli understands that you have an excess of the hormone, natural ways of detoxification will be followed. These include:
A diet that is rich in cruciferous vegetables is recommended. This is because these contain a large number of aromatase inhibitors that only allow the healthy estrogen.
Garlic, leeks etc. are other components that help the body detox. Antioxidant-rich foods can help. Flavonoids present in fruits and vegetables are recommended too. They reduce inflammation and improve cellular communication. Processed foods are eliminated to achieve hormone balance.
Various minerals and vitamins and other supplements can be included in the diet in order to have a detox. Some of the compounds that help DIM, short for Diindolyl-methane and Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C). Magnesium is crucial for the natural metabolic pathways as well as detoxification. Vitamin B, fish oil, omega 3 fatty acids, and other vitamins are assistive in detoxification. Liver detoxification is also vital.
At My Vital Health Solutions, you will be helped by our Melbourne Naturopaths to get back on track to better health by addressing the health condition you have and getting to the root cause of it. Naturopathy has zero side effects and is a holistic approach to health.