As the strongest of the three estrogens, oestradiol (E2) -also known as estradiol- is an important player in the female reproductive system. Understanding this hormone will help women take better control of their reproductive health.
Oestradiol is one of three estrogen hormones naturally produced in the body. While men and women have oestradiol, and it has a role in both of their bodies, women have much higher levels of the hormone than men.
Oestradiol has several functions in the female body. Its main function is to mature and then maintain the reproductive system. During menstruation, increased oestradiol levels cause the maturation and release of the egg, as well as the thickening of the uterus lining to allow a fertilized egg to implant. The hormone is made primarily in the ovaries, so levels decline as women age and decrease significantly during menopause.
In men, proper oestradiol levels help with bone maintenance, nitric oxide production, and brain function. While men need lower levels than women, they still require this important hormone to function well.
In women, too much oestradiol has been linked to acne, constipation, loss of sex drive, and depression. If the levels are extremely high they can cause uterine and breast cancer. Women with high oestradiol levels may experience weight gain and cardiovascular disease. For men, it can lead to the development of female characteristics, and loss of sexual function or muscle tone.
If the body does not have enough oestradiol, bone growth and development is hindered, and adults can develop osteoporosis. Girls may experience delayed puberty with low oestradiol levels. Mood swings have also been connected to low oestradiol levels.
The effects of oestradiol are clearly seen in women experiencing menopause. During this process, women naturally have lower levels of oestradiol as the ovaries stop ovulating. This change often causes mood swings, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats — the symptoms commonly associated with menopause. Over time, lower oestradiol levels can lead to osteoporosis.
To begin the conversation, find an endocrinologist near you and book an appointment to discuss your hormone health.
The Hormone Health Network is the public education affiliate of the Endocrine Society dedicated to helping both patients and doctors find information on the prevention, treatment and cure of hormone-related conditions.
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