In Defence of Estrogen (& Why We Love it)
Here is a hormone that get’s thrown around a lot these days with a big stamp on it’s back saying ‘stay clear’. ‘What is estrogen? Will that increase my estrogen? How do I get rid of it?’. These are just a few of the very common comments I hear day to day from my patients. YES estrogen can play havoc on our bodies BUT it is not always the bad guy and I am here to explain why.
1. Estrogen boosts mood
Did you know estrogen and serotonin (feel good hormone) receptors coexist? Estrogen increases serotonin’s responsivity, increases serotonin receptors and strengthens serotonins uptake.
In addition estrogen up-regulates the activities of several other neurotransmitter systems important for regulation of mood, including dopamine and adrenaline.
Those with low mood have been shown to have reduced hippocampal (it’s in your brain) volume. Estrogen has been shown to increase hippocampal volume and neurogenesis therefore improving mood. ( 1)
2. Estrogen strengthens bones
Estrogen is the key regulator of bone metabolism in women (men too). Our bones resorb (break down) and remodel (rebuild) on a regular basis, estrogen deficiency increases the rate at which our bones remodel in favour of resorb (break down). If we have adequate estrogen, our bones are resorbed and remodeled in the right ratio keeping them healthy and strong. (2)
3. Estrogen raises libido
Hormones do not ‘create’ sexual desire there are many other factors that play a part, but women’s sexual desire is subject to hormonal influence. Estrogen influences your sexual desire. Estrogen acts on the walls of the vagina to increase lubrication and interplays with our neurobiology to get us in the mood. (Testosterone has long been toted as the ‘libido’ hormone but it is actually estrogen that has the dominant role.)
5. Estrogen improves insulin sensitivity
A moderate decrease in estrogen levels increases the risk of insulin resistant. Women making adequate enstrogen enjoy it’s defensive effect against metabolic disorders.
Did you know? Even a slight decrease in circulatory estrogen levels is associated with insulin resistance that may increase the risk for cancers, particularly in the organs having high estrogen demand (breast, endometrium and ovary). (3)
We’ve now learnt the beauty of estrogen but now how do we maintain balanced levels?
How to maintain regular estrogen levels?
– Make sure you are ovulating! Not sure if you are – read our blog on temperature tracking below
– Eat carbs! In each meal include high fibre wholefood carbs such as vegetables, brown rice, quinoa and legumes
– Exercise regularly but avoid overtraining
– Avoid the pill (if you can)
– Stress less! and start meditating
– Supplement with magnesium
– Look after your liver by eating cruciferous vegetables (lightly boiled) such as brocolli, cauliflower, kale and rocket
So if you have your ‘say no to estrogen’ hat still on it’s ok there is still time to slowely take it off without anyone noticing and throw it in the bin. Estrogen can be the good guy and we love it for all it does for our beautiful bodies.
Jennifer Ward, Adv Dip Nat, Bcom Econ
Jennifer is a leading naturopath trained in herbal medicine, nutritional medicine, and health coaching. Consultations available by appointment at www.jenniferwardnaturopath.com.au. For speaking engagement enquiries or to collaborate email email@example.com.