What is estrogen?

Estrogen is a hormone that is produced by the body in one of three forms: estrone, estradiol and estriol. While the bodies of both men and women produce estrogen naturally, estrogen levels are far higher in women and produce certain sex characteristics of women (breasts and menstrual cycle, for example). In women, estrogen is produced primarily by the ovaries.
Estrogen in women decreases after menopause, at which time risk for heart disease increases. However, recent studies have not supported the theory that estrogen replacement protects postmenopausal women from heart disease.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Estrogens are groups of hormones that can be made by humans, animals and plants. Estradiol is the main estrogen made in the body, chiefly in the ovaries. Estrogen is a workhorse hormone with a job to do almost everywhere in the body. It works in the cells in the bones, brain, uterus, heart, blood vessels, skin and lungs. Estrogen levels decline during and after women go through menopause and that's why women sometimes experience symptoms distressing enough to want to treat it with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Estrogen is also used to treat many other health conditions in both men and women, but it is primarily used in birth control pills and menopausal hormone therapies. It is available as a pill, injection, cream, gel, patch (transdermal) or vaginal ring. Estrogen therapies may contain one type or a blend of estrogens, or may be used in combination with the hormone progesterone.

Estrogens are found in plants also. Soy, for example, contains a compound that is similar to the hormone estrogen. If you are considering estrogen therapy, talk to your doctor about the pluses and minuses of using it to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Continue Learning about Estrogen

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.