What is Estrogen? And What Are Its Main Functions?
Estrogen is a category of sex hormones that play several vital roles in the female body. It regulates cholesterol levels and bone health, and it can even affect mood. But what exactly is estrogen? And what are its main functions? Here’s a quick guide to the complex hormone.
Estrogen plays dozens of distinct roles in the female body.
Estrogen is a hormone in the female body and plays many vital roles. For example, it is responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and pregnancy and sets off puberty in young females. It also regulates the lining of the uterus, which allows it to remain firm and lubricated. Estrogen also regulates other aspects of female health, including bone growth, glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and body weight.
Estrogen is a steroid hormone transported to multiple receptors in the body. From there, it enters the target cell and influences its behavior. It can have positive or negative effects on a woman’s health, and it is essential for a woman’s reproductive ability. It also affects dozens of organs and tissues, including the reproductive tract, the heart and blood vessels, the brain, the pelvis muscles, and the breasts.
Estrogen is also essential for the menstrual cycle; it coexists with other hormones in the brain to keep regular periods. It is also involved in ovulation and helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy. It also helps to thin cervical mucus, which helps the sperm reach the egg. This makes it easier for women to become pregnant.
It regulates cholesterol levels.
Women’s estrogen levels have been linked to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. This has been confirmed in studies with women who were given micronized E2 or progesterone. Interestingly, estrogen and progesterone did not inhibit the progression of coronary artery disease in the women who were not treated with estrogen.
In addition to regulating cholesterol levels, estrogen may have other cardiovascular properties. A transgenic mouse model has been used to investigate these effects. While the mechanism for how estrogen works remain unclear, studies have shown that estrogen regulates cholesterol levels in several tissues. Several studies have also demonstrated that estrogen has cardioprotective effects on the liver.
Estrogen controls cholesterol levels in the liver by suppressing the transcription of genes involved in lipid synthesis. In addition, estrogens act by altering signaling from the plasma membrane to the nucleus, where they affect gene expression. In one study, scientists modified ERa so that it could not bind DNA and the only signal from the plasma membrane. They found that this altered ERa reduced cholesterol synthesis in murine hepatocytes.
It maintains bone health.
Studies have shown that circulating estrogen and androgens play a crucial role in bone health, but their relative importance is still debated. Both hormones influence bone directly and indirectly through interactions with their receptors, known as ARs. They act as an anti-inflammatory, decrease osteoclastogenesis, and inhibit osteoclast apoptosis.
Studies show that estrogen contributes more to age-related bone mineral density than testosterone. While the relative contribution of the two hormones may be minor, their role in bone health is still vital for women. Deficiencies in estrogen can lead to increased bone loss and fracture risk. Treatments that increase estrogen levels can reduce bone loss and fracture risks.
Recent research has revealed that estrogen also contributes to bone health in men. A recent study by Smith and colleagues found that estrogen significantly increased BMD in a 28-year-old man with a disruptive mutation of the estrogen receptor gene. In addition, the researchers identified two young men with undetectable estradiol levels and mutations in the CYP19A1 gene, which converts androgens to estrogens.
It affects mood
The hormone estrogen plays a significant role in women’s emotional well-being. It affects various brain parts, including the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal lobes. It can also influence the production and reception of serotonin, the brain chemical that regulates mood. As a result, changes in estrogen levels can lead to increased mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
Women are more likely to develop mood disorders than men. This is mainly due to their increased vulnerability during high hormonal fluctuations. Female predisposition to mood disorders develops during puberty and continues through pregnancy and perimenopause. Several studies have also found that estrogen may play a role in the pathophysiology of these disorders.
Estrogen affects mood in women due to its influence on serotonin and beta-endorphins. Because it influences mood, it is often used as an antidepressant for postmenopausal women. However, it is essential to note that estrogen can also lead to feelings of fear and anxiety.