If any hormone plays a starring role in the female body, it's estrogen. This well-known hormone influences everything from mood and metabolism to energy, vitality, and sexual function. But what is estrogen, and how does it work in the female body to regulate its daily functions? Read on to find out.
What Is Estrogen?
Estrogen is a compound hormone, which means that is it made up of a group of hormones, including estrone, estradiol, and estriol. It is produced and secreted by the ovaries. This hormone is a chemical messenger that travels through the bloodstream and regulates metabolism. All of the body's processes are "ordered" or "commanded" by hormones like estrogen. Click here to read more about what estrogen is, or continue reading below to learn about estrogen's role in the menstrual cycle.
Behind the Scenes: Estrogen's Role in the Menstrual Cycle
One of estrogen's most important roles in the female body is to work in tandem with another hormone, progesterone, to help regulate the menstrual cycle. During the first few days of the cycle, estrogen is produced in the ovarian follicle and secreted into the bloodstream. It travels to the pituitary gland, where it relays the message that it is time to prepare for ovulation. Because of this, the ovaries stimulate production of another hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH), which helps to release the egg. If the egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and menstruation occurs.
The Effects of Estrogen
Estrogen influences nearly every cell, organ, and function in the female body. Here are just a few effects that estrogen has on the female body:
- Mood. Estrogen is thought to influence mood through its interaction with the neurotransmitter serotonin.
- Memory. Estrogen helps prevent memory loss.
- Bone health. Estrogen helps to preserve bone density. Body temperature. Estrogen influences the hypothalamus, which is in charge of regulating body temperature.
- Vaginal moisture. Estrogen helps to maintain a lubricated and thick vaginal lining to prevent vaginal dryness.
Click here to read more about the effects of estrogen.
Because estrogen plays such an important role in daily functions and processes, a surplus or deficiency of estrogen can cause a range of side effects, from physical symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, aches, and pains to mood-related symptoms like depression and anxiety. Click here to read more about the side effects of estrogen imbalance.