The Hormone Story (series): Estrogen
The word "estrogen" is really shorthand for a group of several different but related hormones that perform similar functions within the body: Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3).
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen circulates through the bloodstream and fits estrogen receptors throughout the body: in women, it affects not only the breasts and uterus, but also the brain, bone, liver, heart, and other tissues. Estrogen controls growth of the uterine lining during the first part of the menstrual cycle, causes changes in the breasts during adolescence and pregnancy, and regulates various other metabolic processes including bone growth and cholesterol levels.
Estrogen Affects Men Too
Estrogen also plays a role for men in supporting healthy cholesterol, brain function, and bone health. In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissues. Men produce estrogen in the testes through a process involving an enzyme called aromatase that transforms testosterone into Estradiol (E2).
When all three "sex hormones," estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are in optimal balance, you feel healthy and energetic. However, when age and lifestyle factors throw your hormones out of balance, you feel lousy and can suffer a wide range of symptoms. Due to the added influence of "environmental estrogens," hormonal fluctuations can occur for women and men at any age.
The Underdiagnosed Danger of Estrogen Dominance
One of the most common (yet severely underdiagnosed) types of hormone imbalance is "estrogen dominance." Dr. Randolph and our clinical team firmly believe that estrogen dominance is an unrecognized epidemic in modern life! To understand estrogen dominance, you have to discuss progesterone, too.
Estrogen and progesterone operate like sides of a seesaw, shifting up and down during a woman's monthly cycle. When progesterone gets low, that "side" of the seesaw hits the ground, and negative symptoms arise:
- Poor Sleep
- Heavy Periods
- Weight Gain
- Uterine Fibroids
When the progesterone side of the seesaw gets "stuck" on the ground, the estrogen side is "elevated," relatively speaking. It's not (necessarily) that your estrogen is high -- it's that your progesterone level drops so low that estrogen effectively "dominates."
As men get older, falling progesterone levels lead to a drop in testosterone levels. As both progesterone and testosterone decline, these levels are not enough to balance out the circulating estrogen, and men also become "estrogen dominant." Estrogen dominance is the inevitable result of your aging body's inability to produce hormones efficiently. However, daily exposure to "environmental estrogens," also called "xenoestrogens," can accelerate the aging process, and/or create a condition of estrogen dominance at an earlier age.
The Risk of Xenoestrogens
There are many surprising sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals in products we use every day, from cosmetics and deodorants; synthetic perfumes (in dryer sheets, scented candles, etc); canned foods; conventionally produced meat and dairy; pesticides in vegetables and fruit; high-mercury fish; cleaning products, and more.
You can limit your exposure as much as possible by choosing natural products and eating un- (or low) processed foods. The solution for estrogen dominance in women and men is balancing estrogen levels with bioidentical progesterone cream.
Restore Your Hormone Balance
A "bioidentical" progesterone treatment is chemically identical to the kind your body naturally produces! This allows your hormone "seesaw" to shift back into equilibrium again, relieving and eliminating your symptoms. Many people have found relief with Dr. Randolph's over-the-counter formulation of Natural Balance Progesterone Cream (for women and for men).
However, for more severe problems, the best approach is to have your hormone levels checked. Our clinicians will evaluate your health and lifestyle issues, check your hormones with a simple blood test, and write prescriptions for exactly the hormones that YOUR body needs.
Restoring hormone balance is intricate endocrinology, and often there are several imbalances at play. Each bioidentical hormone formulation we offer is compounded at our on-site pharmacy and can be picked up or shipped as needed.