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The Role of Estrogen in the Female Body

December 18, 2017
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Estrogen is one of our main female sex hormones. It’s heavily involved in secondary sex characteristics such as stimulating the growth and maturation of reproductive organs and breast tissue. It’s also associated with weight gain and fat distribution in women. With respect to the menstrual cycle, it helps with egg development along with LH and FSH. Helps to thicken the uterine lining, and builds and maintains vaginal mucosal thickness and lubrication.

Types of Estrogen

Estrone

This form of estrogen is made in the adrenals and is stored in fat cells. This is the predominant form after menopause kicks in.

Estradiol

This form of estrogen is made in the ovaries and is the strongest and most abundant type (before menopause). Not only is it responsible for the above functions, it also stimulates neuron production, increases serotonin and serotonin receptors. 

Estriol

This form of estrogen is converted in the liver between estrone and estradiol. It’s weaker than estradiol.

Estrogen Dominance

One of the main concerns with estrogen, is that it can be relatively in excess (compared to progesterone). This can lead to a variety of unwelcome symptoms such as:

Menstrual Concerns

  • PMS

  • Dysmenorrhea

  • Fibroids

  • Fibrocystic breasts

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Thickening of uterine lining

  • Endometriosis

Sexual Health

  • Loss of sex drive

Other

  • Acne

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Gallstones

  • Weight fluctuation

Supporting Estrogen in the Body

Liver Support

Once it’s job is done, estrogen prepares to leave the body by passing through the liver and is ultimately excreted in the stool. However, if the liver gets backed up (because of toxin exposure), it won’t be able to eliminate estrogen quick enough. We can support our liver function using herbs, acupuncture, and eating cruciferous vegetables to help support the secondary detoxifcation process!

Supporting the gut

What does your poop look like (check it out here)? I often get weird looks when I ask my patients this question. But this is such an important thing to know because it’s indicative of your gut health! If you’re someone that has a bowel movement every other day and it’s difficult to pass – then you’re likely constipated. Constipation can have big effects on your estrogen levels!

Basically, once the liver metabolizes estrogen by ‘tagging’ it as waste, it’s incorporated into the stool and prepares to leave the body. However, the longer that stool remains in the body, the greater chance that the estrogen will be ‘un-tagged’ and will re-enter the bloodstream (potentially leading to symptoms of estrogen dominance).

Therefore, a healthy gut microbiome and regular bowel movements will help ensure that the tagged estrogen is leaving, and not coming back! We can support the gut by being mindful of any food sensitivities, ensuring we’re eating fibrous fruits and vegetables, and eating prebiotic and probiotic rich foods.  

Decrease Exogenous Estrogens

It’s hard to avoid all toxins in today’s environment. Whether they’re from the air that you’re currently breathing, or the food that you’re eating – toxins are everywhere! Don’t despair – there are small changes that you can make that will help reduce your toxic burden and put less stress on your liver! Do you like to keep well hydrated? Choose a stainless steel or glass bottle to keep BPA at bay. Similarly, if you bring lunch to work everyday, do so using glass containers. Lastly, when meal prepping for the week, choose organic if you incorporating foods from the dirty dozen list

Final Notes

There are so many ways to support estrogen production and detoxification in the body.  If you love learning about your hormones and want to have or maintain a healthy period, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this

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