Estrogen is a very busy hormone for women throughout their lives. Men have some too, but women have more. Estrogen is primarily active in reproductive development and health for women, but its role is far greater than that.
Estrogen is actually a group of sex hormones, each of them performing different roles in women’s health and development. Estrogen helps make women curvier than men by making their pelvis and hips wider, and their breast grow.
Estrogen is part of your menstrual cycle, helps you get pregnant, and plays a role in helping you develop bones and grow hair. It also helps regulate your moods and impacts your brain development and structure.
There are times when your estrogen levels fluctuate, such as during your period or when you’re pregnant. But as you get older and approach menopause, your estrogen levels decline. For some, it happens earlier. Any condition that impairs the ovaries can reduce estrogen production.
Low estrogen levels can have a serious impact on your life. Fortunately, there are ways to replenish your estrogen supply so you don’t have to suffer from the many life-altering symptoms.
Estrogen contributes to so many areas of development in a woman’s body, so once it starts to decline, the impact is wide-ranging. Some ways that low estrogen can affect your body include:
Estrogen and another hormone called progestin regulate body fat and storage. When estrogen levels are low, your body may store more fat than previously.
Estrogen helps provide vaginal lubrication. As your estrogen levels decrease, your vaginal walls may become thin and dry, which can make sex painful.
With lower estrogen levels, your bones may become less dense and more brittle.
Estrogen controls the part of your brain that regulates body temperature. Low estrogen levels can increase your body temperature to an uncomfortable degree, resulting in hot flashes and night sweats.
Serotonin is often referred to as the feel-good hormone. Estrogen helps elevate this happy hormone. But when estrogen declines, so do levels of serotonin, which can lead to bouts of depression.
Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, can lead to fatigue and other problems during the day such as problems focusing. The combination of the lower levels serotonin coupled with night sweats and hot flashes can interfere with sleep.
One way to prevent symptoms of low estrogen is to replenish your estrogen supply. You can increase the levels of estrogen in your body through estrogen replacement therapies. At the Center for Women’s Health, our team, led by Sharon Breit, MD, diagnoses and assesses your estrogen levels and symptoms in order to prescribe the best options for your issues.
Hormone replacement therapy comes in many forms, including pills, creams, patches, and injections, and with the hormone progestin or estrogen-only. Another option is BioTe® Hormone Pellet Therapy, which contains bioidentical hormones derived from plant extracts.
For more information on how estrogen affects your body and what you can do about it, call us at the Center for Women’s Health in Wichita, Kansas, or make an appointment online.