No way around it, you float in an estrogen fluctuating womb before you’re born. If you happen to be born a girl, well…you’re going to find yourself giving over your whole life to this very exclusive hormone. Female estrogen is produced and secreted from the ovaries. In early childhood, the ovaries are relatively dormant and serve as a sort of warehouse for eggs. Yes, you are probably more than aware of its role in much of what we discuss below, but there are some things about estrogen you might not be that aware of:
Your daily life affects your estrogen levels and needs. Vigorous exercise or stress will make you use estrogen faster. Being ill, your body needs more estrogen to heal.
Estrogen can make your skin much more sensitive to both the sun and tanning beds.
Estrogen can play many different roles in cardiovascular health, helping prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries, for example. It can keep blood vessels flexible for better blood flow.
Estrogen is essential for a wide variety of brain functions one of which is creating common menopause symptoms.
Estrogen has been found to play a pivotal role in bone development and growth No or low estrogen can cause dry eyes, blurriness or ever a change in vision.
Low estrogen levels early in life can lead to postmenopausal osteoporosis in females.
You’d be amazed how fickle this fluctuating hormone can be.
NOT QUITE THERE YET
There’s a stage that comes before a young girl’s menstrual cycles; it’s called pre-pubescence, a rollercoaster of change when girls desperately try to fit in with others who aren’t there yet. The first visible evidence of puberty in girls is a nickel-sized lump under one or both nipples. Breast buds, as these are called, typically occur around age nine or ten, although they may occur much earlier, or somewhat later. The girl may worry that something is wrong, especially since the knob of tissue can feel tender and sore making it uncomfortable for her to sleep on her stomach. And one breast can appear before the other. This is the time of “bra” or “no bra”. For most girls, the second sign of puberty is the appearance of pubic hair. In the case of their changing bodies, preadolescent females acquire what, in common language, is often called “baby fat,” which may give them a more rounded belly, a development which may cause considerable anxiety for these girls. And who do they have as role models? A Kardashian? Barbie?
MOM I THINK I GOT MY PERIOD
They’re shocked. They’re amazed. They’re mortified. They hate it. They love it. It’s terrifying. It’s exciting. They’re women. They still feel like little girls. This is the time hyper-hormones kick in. It’s an enigma for most of them. If they haven’t learned all about it in school (and even if they have) it’s important for both parents to make their girls understand what it going on with their bodies and how natural the process is. Girls will have questions and “it’ll be o.k.” won’t cut it. This is the time for “the talk”. And you need the answers.
Why Do You Have a Period?
During the month, blood builds up in the lining of your uterus, which will help a baby develop when you’re older and want to have a family. Most of the time, a fertilized egg is not implanted in your uterus, and the blood sheds out of your body during your monthly period.
What’s Really Going On?
All kinds of changes occur in your body during your menstrual cycle. You get hormone surges at night, with higher and higher and higher peaks, until your period begins. Raised levels of hormones helps eggs grow in your ovaries. Each month, one egg is released into your Fallopian tubes. This is called ovulation. The egg travels down the tube to your womb. And while this happens, your uterine lining thickens with blood — just in case an egg is fertilized by sperm.
If the timing is right, the egg and sperm join together, and the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of your uterus. Pregnancy begins. Without a fertilized egg, the thickened lining has no purpose. So it sheds and comes out through your vagina. Your period has arrived. The average age to start your period is 12, but many girls start younger, and others start later. When you first start to get breasts and some pubic hair, you can usually jump forward two years and guess that’s when you’ll start. It might take up to two years for your period to get regular because the hormone surges are uneven. At first, it’s common to have one period, and then not another for a few months. But even if you don’t have a period every month, you can still get pregnant.
PMS…Perplexed, Moody, Sad
PMS-Please Make it Stop
PMS- Poor me syndrome
PMS- Powerful Monthly Spell
No matter what, to say it can be a horror is understatement. That’s why it’s often called the “CURSE”! The causes of PMS aren’t clear, but several factors may be involved. Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle seem to be the key element. Chemical changes in the brain may also be involved. What are some of the symptoms of PMS? Acne, swollen or tender breasts, trouble sleeping, upset stomach, bloating, headache, backache, food cravings, joint or muscle pain, trouble with concentration or memory, tension, irritability, mood swings, crying, anxiety, depression and often irrational emotional outbursts. That’s the OMG part. Fortunately not all girls get all of them, and they vary from girl to girl. This is also cause for many guys to say cruelly negative things like, “she’s on the rag”… “Stay away from her, she’ll bite your head off”…”watch out, her monster’s coming out”. It’s painful to deal with.
BABY, LOOK AT YOU NOW
Let’s take a look at female hormones in a different light.
Estrogen is one of the most important female reproductive hormones that are produced by the developing follicles in a woman’s ovaries, as well as the corpus luteum and the placenta. A woman will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant. The increase in estrogen during pregnancy enables the uterus and placenta to improve vascularization, transfer nutrients, and support the developing baby. In addition, estrogen is thought to play an important role in helping the fetus develop and mature. Estrogen levels increase steadily during pregnancy and reach their peak in the third trimester. The rapid increase in estrogen levels during the first trimester may cause some of the nausea associated with pregnancy and, during the second trimester, plays a major role in the milk duct development that enlarges the breasts.
Estrogen is important as it increases blood flow throughout the body. It allows the healthy growth of the placenta. This increase in blood flow may cause a generalized flushed appearance. Mucous membranes may get congested, and this may cause swelling, causing postnasal drip, and some sinus congestion. This increase in blood flow may also cause the skin to be more sensitive, and may even be associated with some skin discolorations, and increased pigmentation. For this reason, the nipples, areola, and the white line that runs in the midline of your abdomen may become darker. It comes with the territory.
Progesterone is the other big mama of maternal hormones. It is a “pro-gestational” hormone, hence the name. One of the main purposes of progesterone is to keep the uterine lining healthy and thick, full of nutrients for the developing baby. It keeps muscles relaxed and inhibits pre-pregnancy’s natural contractions of the smooth muscle of the uterus, allowing the baby to grow in an expanding and expanding, and expanding… womb. Progesterone is made early in pregnancy by a cyst on the ovary called the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone until about 10 weeks, when its production is taken over by the placenta. In the first trimester, levels of progesterone rise exponentially, and then they plateau. Progesterone does some very important jobs along the way. Not only does it keep the uterus muscle relaxed, it plays a role in the immune system helping the body tolerate foreign DNA (that is, the fetus).
SOMETHING’S COMING AND IT’S NOT GOING TO BE GOOD
According to the Mayo Clinic, perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time period during which a woman’s body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. Women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice signs of progression toward menopause, such as menstrual irregularity, sometime in your 40s. But some women notice changes as early as their mid-30s. The level of your estrogen — the main female hormone — rises and falls unevenly during perimenopause. Your menstrual cycles may lengthen or shorten, and you may begin having menstrual cycles in which your ovaries don’t release an egg (ovulate). You may also experience menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep problems and vaginal dryness. Which are just a few. “Not tonight, honey” is real, when headaches and migraines, debilitate and radically interfere with normal functioning. Then there could be clumsiness, fatigue, backaches, and food cravings –get out those chips and chocolates! Once you’ve gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, you’ve officially reached menopause, and the perimenopause period is over. Aahhh…at last.
HOT’S NOT COOL
We’ve seen it in movies and TV. Women standing with their heads in front of an open fridge or freezer. When it comes to menopause, hot flashes are the first things that come to mind. Menopause, a decline in women’s estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels, usually begins around the age of 40. In the United States, there are currently about 45 million women going through the stages of menopause. In addition, each year another 4 million women will join them. Although women will have a perimenopausal period, lasting for up to 15 years, most women will notice a sharp decline in hormones around the age of 50. What causes even more hormonal changes in menopause?
Hormones are the messengers in the body that travel through the blood stream to start, stop, speed up or slow down your physical and chemical functions and processes across all body systems. Your ovaries are the source of estrogen and progesterone, the two key hormones that control the reproductive system, including the menstrual cycle and fertility in women. You are born with all the eggs you will ever have. The eggs are in the follicles, which are found in the ovaries. During menopause, the number of ovarian follicles decline and the ovaries become less responsive to the two other hormones involved in reproduction—Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). As your ovaries age and release fewer hormones, FSH and LH can no longer perform their usual functions to regulate your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Ta-da! Oh no! Menopause. More hormonal imbalances. And a lot more debilitating symptoms than just the hot flashes experienced in perimenopause.
HERE’S THE REAL FLASH
Like testosterone replacements, women are assaulted by estrogen replacements.
Chaste tree berry extract, Red clover, Dong quai, Black cohosh, primrose oil, beeswax, orange oil, and on and on. It’s “Shop on Google”, “Shop on Amazon”…lozenges, suppositories, different estrogen types in different creams, serums and patches. Like estrogen deficiency or excess is something you can patch up.
COME TO PEACE WITH YOUR BODY
For women, life is a non-stop onslaught of hormonal fluctuations from before your first period, through menopause and aging. This is where bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help. BHRT as it is often referred to uses natural hormone supplements to address hormonal imbalances and deficiencies. Unlike synthetic or animal-derived hormones, these hormones are identical to those naturally produced by the body. This allows the body to use them in exactly the same manner as it does its own hormones. So where do you go for help?
STEPHEN A. GOLDSTEIN, M.D, F.A.C.S. AT DENVER HORMONE HEALTH HAS YEARS OF EXPERTISE IN HELPING WOMEN RESTORE THE HORMONE IMBALANCES THAT TOO OFTEN DISRUPT THEIR LIVES. YOU HAVE QUESTIONS? HE’S THERE TO LISTEN AND ANSWER. EDUCATION IS A HUGE FACTOR TO HIM IN THE INDIVIDUALED PROCESS OF HELPING WOMEN FEEL THEIR BEST. IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO HIM TO ADDRESS NOT JUST SYMPTOMS, BUT ROOT CAUSES OF WHAT MIGHT BE OTHER PROBLEMS. WITH COMPREHENSIVE TESTING, HE IS ABLE TO DETERMINE ANY DEFICIENCIES OR EXCESSES IN YOUR SYSTEM. AS A RESULT OF THES TESTS, HE CREATES AN INDIVIDUALIZED, COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM TO HELP ALLEVIATE YOUR SYMPTOMS, HELPING YOU FEEL THE BEST YOU HAVE IN A LONG TIME.
CALL, KNOWING IT’S THE FIRST BEST THING YOU CAN DO TO DO SOMETHING REALLY GOOD FOR YOURSELF.