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Estrogen

This hormone is produced in significant quantities in the female human body, primarily by the ovaries.  It is responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system, secondary sex characteristics, favorable effects on blood cholesterol and lipid profiles, and slowing the progression of osteoporosis. There are three different types of estrogen produced by the body: estrone, estradiol and estriol. All three types serve different functions within our bodies, all of which contribute to our overall health and feeling of wellness.

How Does This Affect Me?

Estrogens may be used for replacement therapy in peri-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal women for the treatment of symptoms of low estrogen levels. Estrogens are also used in the treatment of a variety of other conditions associated with a deficiency of estrogen hormone such as ovarian failure or removal of the ovaries. Other uses include preventing osteoporosis, ischemic heart disease, improving blood lipid profile, and maintaining bladder and urinary tract function. Topical estrogen therapy has also been used for reduction of wrinkles and skin softening effects.

Symptoms of low estrogen:

  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decreased sexual sensation  and drive
  • Mental fogginess
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Depression and/or irritability
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Fatigue
  • Migraine headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Osteoporosis

Symptoms of excess estrogen:

  • Breast tenderness/fullness
  • Bloating
  • Pounding headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Uterine fibroids and/or fibrocystic breasts
  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • Unstable blood-sugar levels
  • Depression
  • Joint pain
  • Irritability
  • Water retention

Precautions:

Estrogen therapy may be contraindicated for those with personal history of breast, ovarian, endometrial cancer, or a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Close collaboration with an oncologist may be needed in these situations. You should use with caution if experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding. Patients with previous deep vein thrombosis require careful monitoring if they are taking oral estrogen. Women with known heart disease need routine evaluation and annual labs with their primary care physician.