Tuesday, September 16, 2014

E is for Estrogen

Our E word for today is estrogen.   There are actually three female sex hormones in humans, estradiol, estrone, and estriol which are all estrogens.  Estradiol is the most important one and has the physical effects commonly associated with “estrogen”.  These effects are:

~ breast growth
~changes in fat placement
~ strengthens bones
~ strengthens vagina and uterus
~ lessens melanin in skin (ever notice how most men have slightly darker skin than most women?)
~ stimulates growth of endometrium and thus causes menstruation
~ stimulates luteinizing hormone which causes ovulation (birth control pills cause a permanent surge of estrogen to mask this and thus prevent ovulation)
~ works with testosterone to increase sex drive
~Changes levels of serotonin and endorphins in the brain, causing the psychological and behavioral differences between men and women

As most people know, both men and women produce estrogen in their gonads and adrenal glands.  The balance of sex hormones is vital for a fetus to develop into a male or female.  Many intersex conditions result from their hormones being off or being unable to react to hormones.  Don't worry men, I will talk about testosterone when I get to T so stay with me as I blog my way through the alphabet.  

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