Although we have 3 sex hormones, for women, of all our hormones, Estrogen is our most important
It performs over 400 functions in our body –
- Needed to produce Collagen
- Protective for our heart
- Keeps us flexible in our joints
- Muscle tone
- Bone turnover
- Liver function
- Urogenital Health#
- Brain Health
Nearly every cell in the female body has estrogen receptors, ready to let Estrogen into a cell (our little factories) and produce whatever is needed – new bone, HDL cholesterol or Collagen.
Is it any wonder that as our levels of this vital hormone decline, our bodily systems start to feel it
There are 3 types of Estrogen.
Estradiol- Our most active Estrogen, produced by our ovaries and in smaller quantities by our liver, fatty tissues and adrenals
Estrone – Produced in our fatty tissues, liver and adrenals before and after menopause and becomes the primary estrogen post menopause
Estriol is a by-product of Estradiol & Estrone produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
Let’s look at some areas where low Estrogen impacts our long-term health.
Up until our menopause, Estrogen has many effects on our cardiovascular system, including –
- Modulating Vascular function
- Inflammation Response
- Insulin Sensitivity
- Stem cell survival
- Hypertrophy (muscle formation)
It does this by activating the Estrogen Receptors.
Estrogen is a protective hormone; it protects our heart, so when it declines, we must face up to and be educated about our increased risks.
Estrogen, along with progesterone and Testosterone, is an anti-inflammatory which is good for our arteries.
To see the protective nature of our Estrogen, you only have to look at the change in risk ratios between women and men and their risks of coronary heart disease change as follows as we age –
Under 45 Women vs Men 1:40
45-64 Women vs Men 1:3
Over 65 Women vs Men 1:1
Did You Know? Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in women.
Metabolic Syndrome (MetS)
Metabolic syndrome can be defined as a cluster of conditions that occur together. Conditions include –
- High Blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Excess body fat around the waist (central obesity)
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- Pelvic dysfunction
Having just one of these conditions doesn’t mean you have Metabolic Syndrome.
But it does mean you have a greater risk of developing severe metabolic diseases.
And if you develop more of these conditions, you increase your risk of
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Type 2 diabetes
MetS doesn’t just have an effect on peri/menopausal women; younger women who suffer from metabolic syndrome can suffer from
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
A switch from Pear to Apple
The Swan study, conducted over 9 years, showed a drop in estradiol production potentially leads to Testosterone progressively dominating the hormonal landscape during the menopausal transition
Leading to Androgen Dominance leading to the change to the ‘apple’ shape.
Alongside Androgen Dominance, decreased Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG is a glycoprotein made predominantly in the liver that binds to Androgens and Oestrogens to increase their bioavailability) also becomes a factor in increasing central adiposity.
Decreased levels of SHBG are strongly associated with increased triglycerides and decreased HDL-C levels.
There are lots of other areas where estrogen deficiency affects us –
- Lead to the thinning and weakening of tissues around the neck of the bladder
- Itchy, dry, sore vagina
- Urinary burning
- More frequent urination
- Painful intercourse
- More frequent UTIs
- More frequency of thrush
- Bone health
An excellent book called Oestrogen Matters by Dr Avrum Bluming is available on link to the recording of my Facebook Group Live on this subject