Estrogen is an important hormone that is produced by the ovaries and, in small amounts, by the adrenal glands. It is responsible for the development of female sexuality. Estrogen is necessary for female sexual organ development, maintenance of the skeletal system, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and maintenance of pregnancy.
Estrogen levels typically fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle and throughout life.
- During the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels fluctuate throughout the month. Secreted by developing follicles, this hormone helps thicken the lining of the uterus to facilitate ovulation and possible pregnancy.
- Also one of the main hormones of pregnancy, estrogen supports the production of fluid in the reproductive tract and improves sperm survival by altering cervical secretions.
- Towards the end of pregnancy, estrogen promotes the growth of milk ducts in the mother’s breasts and enhances the action of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production.
Some women experience a condition called estrogen dominance, where their estrogen levels are higher than normal.
Estrogen dominance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome
High levels of estrogen, known as estrogen dominance, can occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The condition is a hormonal imbalance that can lead to irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, and acne. It is characterized by multiple fluid-filled sac-like sacs on the ovaries, although it is not necessary to be present to diagnose this condition.
PCOS is the most common cause of ovulatory infertility and is thought to be dominated by estrogen along with other hormonal imbalances, including elevated testosterone.
Lack of ovulation can lead to persistently high levels of estrogen and progesterone insufficiency.
In the absence of progesterone, continued estrogen exposure may cause excessive thickening of the lining of the uterus, leading to heavy and/or irregular bleeding or anovulatory uterine bleeding (anovulation).
lifelong polycystic ovary syndrome
Heavy menstrual bleeding and PCOS
For women with menorrhagia (menorrhagia or menorrhagia), estrogen combined with progesterone may be recommended to temporarily stop bleeding and stabilize the endometrial lining.
Synthetic estrogen is one of the main hormones in birth control pills and usually contains estrogen and progesterone (synthetic progesterone).
Alternatively, oral progestin alone can be used to control bleeding.
Low-dose oral contraceptives or an intrauterine device (IUD), such as Mirena, an intrauterine system that releases levonorgestrel, are also options to reduce heavy bleeding.
In some cases, endometrial ablation, a surgical procedure that removes most of the lining of the uterus, is recommended.
Types of drugs used to treat PCOS
Environmental causes of estrogen dominance
Hormone dysfunction is a major factor in estrogen dominance in women with PCOS. Environmental factors can also play a role. Chemicals in our environment, called xenoestrogens, can mimic the naturally occurring estrogens in our bodies and act as endocrine disruptors.
Some sources of EDCs include pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates (found in plastic containers, water bottles, and paper receipts), and parabens (often found in skin and hair care products).
It is thought that BPA may disrupt signaling pathways by interfering with estrogen receptors. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have higher levels of BPA.
To minimize your exposure to environmental spoilers, Follow these tips:
- Choose glass containers to heat and store food.
- Drink from glass bottles or beverages labeled “BPA free.”
- Buy canned foods that are labeled “BPA free.”
- Eat organic and hormone-free foods.
- Wash your hands after handling paper receipts.
- Check the ingredients in your skin and hair care products, and buy products that are paraben-free.
- Eating a diet rich in antioxidants also helps protect estrogen receptors from environmental damage.
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