Men and women both begin life with the same amount of androgens. It is the expression of significantly higher levels of Estrogen during puberty which express female characteristics. Estrogen promotes soft, healthy skin, and the formation of "womanly roundness" (breasts, hips, buttocks, etc.). It has benefits to mental function and mood.
Estrogen is an advanced hormone, meaning that it is the most complicated of the Gonadal hormones. While the androgens can synthesize to form Estrogen derivatives the reverse does not happen. Woman have significantly higher levels of estrogen relative to men.
However, the importance of androgens in can not be underscored, particularly in menopausal women. Like most things in life and nature, balance is of the essence. The hormones are a system that works together with the body in concert for proper functioning.
|1. What is Estrogen?||5. Cognitive Function/Mood|
|2. Estrogen & PMS||6. Heart Disease|
|3. Estrogen & Menopause||7. Weight Gain|
|4. Bone Density||8. Prolactin|
Estrogen is a gonadal/steroidal hormone. It is a derivative of the same hormone pre-cursors as Testosterone. However, it is the Follicle Stimulating Hormone versus the Luteinizing hormone which is responsible for the aromatization of Progesterone and other Androgens into Estrogen. These steroids are secreted by the theca interna and granulosa cells of the developing ovarian follical, corpus luteum or the placenta. Estrogens are also produced by aromatization of androgens in fat cells and in the skin.
PMS Symptoms are the result of imbalance in the body. Steroidal (Estrogen & Androgens) hormones have primary and secondary functioning on a many non-sexually related activities. Herbal Supplements like Formula OTM seek to create balance between estrogen and androgens.
Cramps: Primarily due to over expression of the prostaglandins during ovulation. Estrogen is known to suppress express of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Moodiness: If it is depressive, lethargic, and irritable without aggressiveness, this could be an over-expression of Estrogen over the androgens.
Acne: This results from an over expression of the androgens over Estrogen.
Weight Gain & Water Retention: This comes from an over-expression of Estrodiol, the more potent form of estrogen.
Menopause results from the cessation of activity from ovarian follicles marked by one full year without menses. This process generally occurs over a period of six to eight years during a period of Peri-menopause and can start as early as the late 30's in some women.
The follicles in the ovary are responsible for most of the estrogen production for women. The sharp decline in the estrogen that occurs during this period of time, reeks havoc on the hormone balance necessary for the body to work in balance. For example, Estrogen interacts with the regulation of a variety of opiates and thermo-balancing hormones in the thyroid. It's sudden decline can cause the body to improperly access internal temperature. The sensation associated with this is called a hot flash and correlating symptoms of sweating, increased heart rate, and dilation of the arteries are an attempt by the body to correct this imbalance.
Bone is continuously breaking down and rebuilding. The breaking down of bone cells is a necessary and healthy process. As osteoporosis sets in the breaking down of bone occurs at a rate that is faster than the body is rebuilding. Estrogen is beneficial to bone density because staves off the breaking done process. However, it can not reverse Osteoporosis because it does not play a role in building of new bone.
Estrogen plays a major role in proper functioning of cerebral activity. It increases blood flow to the brain and hence the supply of oxygen and glucose necessary to functioning. Similarly, it is indicated as having a role in mediating the release of acetylcholine and serotonin (happy hormones).
Similar to testosterone, Estrogen has shown an ability to improve nerve cell growth by increasing the creation of synapses in the hippocampus nerve cells and helping them to grow and regenerate. It is for this reason that Estrogen is being testing in on-going studies in Alzheimer's patients.
However it would be felicitous to attribute all improvements in brain cognitive function and mood to estrogen alone. Though the biochemistry is still unclear, the hormone balance between the androgens and Estrogen is significant for determining which secondary hormones will be stimulated. For example, the secretion of "happy hormones" in the body, the presence of progesterone with Estrogen is necessary.
For younger women, studies are quite clear that Estrogen is beneficial to preventing heart failure. For older women findings are inconclusive. The reason for the difference lies in the health of estrogen receptors in the heart which are damaged due to methylation. Lacking the estrogen receptors in the heart, exogenous estrogen replacement is ineffective and can in some cases complicate heart failure symptoms in aging women.
Yet methylation is also necessary to proper functioning of the heart. The process of methylation decreases the amount of homocysteine (responsible for stiffening blood vessels and clotting blood) content in the blood.
Estrogen is linked to weight gain during menopause. The correlation is however tenacious and in the realm of theory. However, we present it to assist you in making good decisions.
Many postulate that the increase in fat is an attempt by your body to create more estrogen. Fat cells are one of the many producers of estrogen in women. It may also be for this reason that skinny women tend to have higher incident of hot flashes (which are related directly to the fluctuations of hormones during Peri-Menopause and Menopause).
Others suggest a more secondary cause of menopausal weight gain. Overall metabolism is decreased due to the slower production of hormone levels.
For this reason, estrogen replacement options will probably NOT best assist this side effect of menopause.
Prolactin is a single-chain protein hormone secreted by lactotrophs in the anterior pituitary. A number of immune cells, the brain and the decidua of the pregnant uterus are most commonly responsible for synthesis and secretion of this hormone.
The most visibly direct role of Prolactin is on the mammary glands. As the name suggests, it promotes the production of lactose during pregnancy. The expression of Prolactin in this manner is held in check by dopamine in the brain. Estrogen serves to signal the expression of Prolactin over dopamine.
It is for this reason that Prolactin is linked to PMS and Menopausal symptoms. The change in gonadal hormones associated with these two processes greatly affect dopamine-estrogen balance. Estrogen dominance which can occur during PMS can result in additional Prolactin being produced. Though this is not enough to create milk in most women, it would create soreness in the breasts.
While Estrogen and Testosterone can both have positive effects on libido, Prolactin is noted to suppress libido. This may be due to the interaction between Prolactin and dopamine (a happy mood hormone) Research is currently being done on Prolactin, Estrogen, and dopamine and its relationship to various types of depression. However, this may be the reason behind PMS related moodiness and depression.
Excessive secretion of prolactin - hyperprolactinemia - is a common disorder. This condition has numerous causes, including prolactin-secreting tumors and therapy with certain drugs. Common manifestations of hyperprolactinemia in women include amenorrhea (lack of menstrual cycles) and galactorrhea (excessive or spontaneous secretion of milk).
Men with hyperprolactinemia typically show hypogonadism, with decreased sex drive, decreased sperm production and impotence. Such men also often show breast enlargement (gynecomastia), but very rarely produce milk.