Although typically thought of as a “sex hormone”, estrogen plays a number of very important roles in the body, affecting everything from brain health to heart health and more.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what estrogen is, and the health impacts which can occur when levels are off-balance.
If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance, a women’s health naturopathic doctor can help you to determine the root cause of your imbalance and offer natural solutions to help.
Keep reading to learn more about the role of estrogen in the body.
Again, Everyone Has Both
It’s important to note, although we tend to associate estrogen with females, and testosterone with males, that everyone’s body produces and uses both hormones.
We talked about this in my last article earlier this month, on the hormone testosterone .
Estrogen is associated with feminizing effects, such as breast development, whereas testosterone is responsible for masculizing effects.
Although this is the case, all individuals produce and use both hormones.
What Is Estrogen?
A hormone typically associated with the development of feminizing characteristics, estrogen plays a number of roles in the body, beyond those it’s generally associated with.
There are a number of different kinds of estrogen, which all have different roles.
Read on to learn about these:
Estrone is a less potent form of estrogen, which can convert into other forms of estrogen as required by the body.
This type of estrogen is found in the body after menopause.
Estradiol is the most prevalent type of estrogen in women during their fertile years.
Excess estradiol levels can have side effects including low sex drive, osteoporosis, and depression.
If levels get extremely high it can lead to a higher risk of breast and uterine cancer.
Low levels, on the other hand, can lead to cardiovascular disease, and weight gain.
Estriol plays an important role during pregnancy, as it is important for the growth of the uterus, and preparing the body for delivery.
Estrogen In Men
Estrogen plays an important role in sexual growth and development in men.
If levels of estrogen are out of balance, it can have consequences for sexual function and development.
Low Estrogen In Men
Generally speaking, low estrogen levels are not a large concern for men.
In some cases, the symptoms are similar to those of high estrogen, as the root causes of hormone imbalances are often the same.
Causes of low estrogen in men include:
- Genetic disorders
- Kidney or liver conditions
- Radiation exposure
- High iron levels in the blood
- Pituitary gland conditions
- Autoimmune conditions
- Infections affecting sexual organs
- Surgery on the testicles or penis
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- A tumor on or near the pituitary gland
- Higher than average weight loss
High Estrogen In Men
High levels of estrogen in men can lead to a number of issues, including:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Enlargement or swelling of the breast tissue
- Slowed growth/delayed puberty
Estrogen In Women
In women, estrogen is one of the hormones responsible for sexual development, along with progesterone.
It plays a role in regulating the menstrual cycle and affects the reproductive system.
Functions of estrogen in women include:
- Stimulating the growth of egg follicles
- Vaginal lubrication
- Maintenance of the mucous membrane which lines the uterus
- Formation of breast tissue
- Stopping the flow of breast milk after weaning
If estrogen levels are too high or too low it can have serious health effects.
Low Estrogen In Women
Symptoms of low estrogen include:
- Vaginal dryness (which can result in painful sexual intercourse)
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Absent or irregular periods
- Chronic fatigue
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Tender breasts
- Decrease in bone density, leading to bones which fracture more easily
Low estrogen is most common in menopausal women, and young girls who have not reached puberty, however, it can occur in individuals of all ages.
Potential causes of low estrogen include:
- Eating disorders
- Issues with the pituitary gland
- Autoimmune conditions
- Kidney disease
High Estrogen In Women
High levels of estrogen can lead to the following symptoms:
- Tender and swollen breast tissue
- Low sex drive
- Fibrocystic lumps in the breast
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Higher levels of PMS symptoms
- Cold hands/feet
- Brain fog
- Tiredness and difficulty sleeping
- Hair loss
Naturopathic Solutions For Hormonal Imbalance
If you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance, getting tested to determine the exact nature of the imbalance is an important first step to effectively dealing with your symptoms.
Once you have determined you have an imbalance, a naturopathic doctor can help you figure out why your hormone levels are out of balance and can offer solutions to get at the root cause of your symptoms.
Book An Appointment With Dr. Maria
If you are experiencing the symptoms listed above, or are otherwise worried you might have a hormonal imbalance, contact me, Dr. Maria.
I will work with you to get to the root of your hormonal imbalance and offer natural solutions which not only target your symptoms but also address the root causes of your issues.
This will help you to get your system back in balance and help your body heal.
Contact me, Dr. Maria, today for more information and to set up an appointment.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.