Sunday, February 21, 2016

Why is estrogen important for women?

Lets talk about the benefits of estrogen.  It has literally hundreds of roles in a woman's body!

Estrogen helps to protect your heart.  When you are premenopausal, your risk of a heart attack is significantly less than a man’s risk.  But after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, the risks become equal.   

It also helps to keep your tissues hydrated.  Without estrogen you can become dry:  dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin, dry hair, dry vagina……

Bone health also depends on hormones, and estrogen in particular helps to prevent bone loss.  While this may not be something you are particularly worried about right now, it should be!  If you have a broken hip because of osteoporosis, there is a good chance that you will end up in assisted living. Preventing bone loss now is very important for your future mobility and independence.  

Something you may be very concerned about right now is how old you look!  Estrogen affects skin health - it helps to provide hydration and blood flow to keep that youthful glow to your skin,  and it maintains collagen to provide elasticity, which helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.  You may notice your skin aging rapidly as you go through the menopause.  One research study found that women with higher estrogen levels looked on average 8 years YOUNGER than women with low estrogen levels! 

Arguably the most important role of estrogen is on brain health.  Estrogen is energizing to the brain, so if estrogen levels are low you may feel more tired.  It is also important for quality of sleep, and obviously you have to be able to sleep to have good energy!

Estrogen is a natural anti-depressant in women.  It is needed to activate serotonin receptors in your brain, and serotonin is the natural brain chemical responsible for peace and joy, so obviously you want that!  If your estrogen levels are low, you may feel more flat, anxious or unmotivated.   You may be prescribed an anti-depressant medication to try to boost serotonin levels (like Prozac, Celexa, or Zoloft for example), but if you can normalize your estrogen levels,  your mood may improve without the need for medication.

There is a very important relationship between estrogen and memory.   If your estrogen level drops you may find yourself forgetting names, why you walked into the room or where you left the car keys.  It can be alarming and you may even worry that you are experiencing the early stages of Alzheimers!  Fortunately in many cases your memory can improve significantly with restoration of normal estrogen levels.  

Did you know that the average woman gains 20 pounds as she goes through menopause?  Estrogen deficiency can cause you to pack on the pounds, even if you haven't changed your diet or exercise. Of course, if you are tired, unmotivated and not sleeping well you may be finding it more difficulty to maintain healthy lifestyle habits!

As you can see, estrogen is very important for how you feel, how you look and how you will age. 

If you are interested in learning more about estrogen and whether estrogen replacement may be a good idea for you, click here.  If you are interested in scheduling an appointment to talk with us about your personal situation, please call 704-752-9346.  

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