Estrogens are a group of hormones produced by both male and female bodies. They are produced at higher levels in female bodies and play an important role in a number of functions including skin health, cardiovascular health, bone health, cognitive health and mood. However, estrogen is best known for being one of the female sex hormones.
Estrogen is important in puberty, when rising levels develop female characteristics such as breasts, wider hips and hair growth. It is them important for fertility and sexual health. During the menstrual cycle estrogen stimulates the egg follicle and stimulates growth of the lining of the womb to prepare for pregnancy. It also ensures the vagina stays well lubricated and supple.
In female bodies estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries, as well as the adrenal glands and fat tissue. Therefore if the ovaries are damaged for any reason or removed estrogen levels will drop. The ovaries also naturally fluctuate the level of estrogen production throughout a woman's life.
The ovaries stop producing estrogen at the menopause, this causes menstrual cycles to stop as well as a number of other symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats, changes in mood, vaginal dryness and a loss of bone density.
This being said, naturally getting older is the most common cause of low estrogen in females. Lowering estrogen is completely natural but it does have some unpleasant side affects which is why many women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help them navigate the menopause. There are also natural - but slower ways to increase estrogen.
However perimenopause or menopause are not the only causes of low estrogen in women. There are a number of medical treatments and medical conditions that can cause estrogen levels to fall. High levels of stress on the body and a lack of nutrition can also cause the ovaries to stop producing estrogen, this can happen as a result of excessive exercise or eating disorders such as anorexia.
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