When we think about women’s hormones, we usually think of estrogen first. While men also need estrogen, as it’s required for critical thinking, in this series we will focus on its role for women.
The Importance of Estrogen
Estrogen receptors are found throughout the entire body – in the brain, muscle, bones, bladder, gut, colon, heart, lungs, blood vessels, eyes, and of course in the uterus, ovaries, and breasts. From this long list, it’s easy to see how having a hormonal imbalance can affect nearly every aspect of your body, including the way you think and feel.
In total there are over 400 critical functions in the body involving estrogen! Estrogen contributes to the body’s regulation of:
- Body temperature
- Blood pressure
- Heart health
- Bone density
- Blood flow
- Cognitive reasoning
- Skin smoothness
- Eye health
- Many, many more…
Estrogen affects the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing LDL and lowering homocysteine. It prevents tooth loss and maintains bone density! Estrogen affects the water content of our skin and makes skin smoother and look younger. It’s easy to see how important estrogen is for general health, and how a deficiency can affect the whole body.
Symptoms of Deficiency
of estrogen deficiency in women can include:
- Dry eyes
- High cholesterol
- Thinning hair
- Painful sex
- Weight gain (especially around the middle)
- Oily skin
Causes of Deficiency
When looking for the cause of an estrogen deficiency in women, we must consider her stage of life. Women can experience deficiency after having a baby (postpartum), and can also experience deficiency after going through menopause. Synthetic estrogen replacement with birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy with synthetic medications can induce a functional estrogen deficiency as well as low thyroid function. In addition, insulin resistance, diabetes, or prediabetes can cause a functional estrogen deficiency.
Premature ovarian failure, when the ovaries stop working, can be caused by chemicals in the environment. In general, chemicals in our environment can act like estrogens in the body and disrupt the production of hormones.
These are a few of the things that can affect hormone levels of estrogen in a woman throughout her lifespan.
In the next post in our hormone series, we’ll discuss the use of food and lifestyle as medicine to address the hormonal issues women encounter with imbalanced estrogen throughout their lifespan.
Take care and be well.
Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.
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