Definition - What does Estrogen mean?

Estrogen is one of the primary female sex hormones. Along with another hormone called progesterone, estrogen is responsible for female physical development and controls the reproductive system.

The male body also produces small amounts of estrogen, which contributes to overall sexual processing.

Estrogen is essential to a girl’s ability to sexually mature, and for a woman’s ability to maintain sexual health and pregnancy.

FertilitySmarts explains Estrogen

During puberty, estrogen is responsible for the following processes:

  • Breast growth
  • Public hair growth
  • Body hair growth (underarms and legs)
  • Initiating menstruation

As women mature, estrogen maintains responsibility for:

  • Bone health
  • Brain functioning
  • Healthy cholesterol levels
  • The sexual reproductive system, including ovulation, menstruation and conception

Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, the site of egg development and maturation. The amount of estrogen in the body is dependent upon the current phase of the menstrual cycle and the woman's life.

There are three types of estrogen produced during different stages of a woman’s life cycle:

  • Estradiol: present in women of childbearing age
  • Estriol: present during pregnancy
  • Estrone: present after menopause

When the female body makes too much or too little estrogen, the natural processes the controlled by the hormone can be disrupted. This can result in certain health conditions, including infertility. Symptoms of a estrogen imbalance include:

  • Abnormal or absent menstrual periods
  • Low sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Debilitating premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Uterine fibroids

To treat hormone disruptions, hormone therapy, including replacement hormones, or lifestyles changes, may be advised.

In men, the presence of too much estrogen can prevent the male reproductive system from functioning naturally. Too little estrogen can cause low sex drive, while too much can cause infertility.

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