I bet you never knew oestrogen could do all of this!

It’s a difficult time during menopause for some women. Many sail through these years with no symptoms, but as oestrogen levels start to decline, others start to feel the effects. Here are a few pointers as to what oestrogens do within the body and the importance of replacing the falling levels.  What happens when oestrogen declines? Some women experience one or more of the following: Hot flushes, Vaginal dryness, Irritability, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Fatigue, Aches and pains, incontinence, Poor short-term memory, Alzheimer’s disease, Osteoporosis of the spine and hip fractures, Loss of teeth, Wrinkles, Dry skin, Cardiovascular diseases, Cancer. Using the correct Oestrogen replacement can help to:

  • Control hot flushes.
  • Maintain pelvic health.
  • Improve cognitive function.
  • Improve mood.
  • Restore sleep.
  • Maintain thickness and fullness of skin and hair.
  • Protect against colon cancer
  • Protect against macular degeneration.
  • Prevent atherosclerosis.
  • Reduce hypertension.
  • Improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Prevent osteoporosis.
  • Prevent osteoarthritis.
  • Improve memory.

Estrogen is an umbrella term for different oestrogens including estriol, estrone, and estradiol. All three are produced in the body and have a physiological effect. Types of oestrogens: Estradiol (E2) is the predominant estrogen in premenopausal women. Estrone (E1) is the primary estrogen produced after menopause in the body. Estradiol is reversibly oxidized to estrone and both estradiol and estrone can be converted to estriol (E3). The potency of E2 is 12 times that of E1 and 80 times that of E3. In Bio-Identical Hormone Restorative Therapy ‘Biest’ is often used which is a combination of Estradiol and Estrone. Sometimes ‘Triest’ is used which also includes Estriol. The process towards menopause: The number of oocytes (eggs) decreases during ageing. The decreased production of estrogen and progesterone starts age 30. Perimenopause means infrequent ovulation and often there is low progesterone. Ovarian failure leads to the menopause. Hormone deficiency and disease in women: Coronary heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, hip fracture, stroke, Parkinsonism, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety and breast cancer are all associated with estrogen deficiency. All of these diseases are rare before the menopause. The first 3 diseases are associated with oestrogen deficiency.  Breast cancer is associated with a progesterone deficiency. Youthful hormone levels help to protect women from these diseases. Early removal of the ovaries increases the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and dementia. Bone changes: There is a 5% bone loss each year during the first 5 years of menopause. 25% of this loss is due to loss of oestrogen. In the 20 years post menopause, there is a 50% reduction in trabecular bone, 30% in cortical bone. 50% of women over 65 years old have spinal compression fractures. Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 are essential for bone health which is why Vitamin D is always tested for with our Bio-Identical Hormone Blood Test. Oestrogens prevent the resorption of old bone whilst testosterone, progesterone, DHEA and growth hormone help to build new bone, which is why they are all tested for. Bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva) stop bone remodelling and suppress bone formation, and there is an increase in non-traumatic fractures after more than 5 years. Hormone Restoration Therapy including Vitamin D3 increases bone density better than bisphosphonates and preserves normal bone remodelling. Oestrogen safety: Estriol has been used for decades without reported safety concerns and is a component of medications approved for use worldwide. The FDA acknowledged it is unaware of any adverse events associated with the use of compounded medications containing estriol. In fact, when estriol is given together with estradiol, the estradiol-specific stimulation to cells is decreased. Alone, estriol is a weak estrogen, but given with estradiol, it functions as an anti-oestrogen. Estriol and/or tamoxifen, as opposed to other oestrogens, prevented the development of breast cancer in rats after the administration of carcinogens in a large study of more than 30, 000 women.  The use of estrogen-only HRT increased the risk of breast cancer compared with that in non-users. The addition of synthetic progestin further increased breast cancer risk, while the use of an estriol- containing preparation was not associated with the risk of breast cancer that was seen with other preparations. The increased risk of uterine cancer in users of non- bioidentical estrogen is well-established in the scientific literature. The use of topical (on the skin) lower-potency estriol is not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer. Both estriol and progesterone levels dramatically increase during pregnancy (an approximate 15-fold increase in progesterone and a 1000-fold increase in estriol). Women who have given birth at some point continue to produce higher levels of estriol than women who’ve never given birth. An increased exposure to progesterone and estriol during and after pregnancy confers a significant long-term reduction in the risk for breast cancer. So hopefully there is a little more clarity about the role of oestrogen and it’s importance. If you’d like to get yours checked, click here.