(Health Secrets) The steroid hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are usually referred to as the sex hormones because they orchestrate reproduction, but that is just the beginning. Optimal levels of steroid hormones are essential for the maintenance and balance of our internal environment in a process known as homeostasis. Steroid hormones fill us with joy and zest for living. With optimal levels of these hormones, there is no end to how good life can feel and what can be accomplished.
When our steroid hormones are abundant and in balance, we have the full backing of nature, wanting to keep us alive and healthy enough for reproduction. But nature’s grand scheme also dictates that after our children become able to care for themselves, levels of our steroid hormones decline and the process of aging and death begins. We are no longer useful in the grand scheme of life, and nature eases us out of the way so the next generation can take center stage. The only way to reverse this process is to restore the missing hormones and return our bodies to a state of homeostasis.
In the past several years there has been a tremendous effort in America to convince women that their steroid hormones are their enemies. But the truth is that no matter how many organic fruits and vegetables you eat, how many supplements you take, and how much exercise you get, vibrant health will elude you unless your steroid hormones are at optimal levels and in balance.
Steroid hormone loss begins long before menopause
There is a tendency to think that reproductive hormone levels are fine until menopause sets in sometime around age 55. But in reality, hormone levels in women can start to fall off as early as age 30 and accelerate from there. Periods become irregular and unpredictable, mood changes, signs of PMS develop, hair begins to thin, and weight gain starts to be a problem. One of the surest signs that steroid hormone levels are declining is a loss of libido. Sexual activity that used to seem so beautiful, satisfying and sharing can become merely a nuisance. With declining steroid hormone levels, the vibrant woman that was you begins to slip away.
As hormonal losses accelerate, these symptoms can be accompanied by night sweats, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, fatigue, loss of energy, menstrual headaches, loss of focus and attention, poor muscle tone, decreased exercise tolerance, osteoporosis, rising cholesterol levels, rising levels of inflammation, cardiac dysfunction, inability to tolerate stress, memory loss, and cognitive decline. At this point that person who used to be you is effectively gone and nothing but hormone replacement will bring her back.
Steroid hormones are minor hormones with major consequences in the body
Steroid hormones are called minor hormones because a person can continue to live (sort of) without them. Familiarity with the functions of these hormones will make it easy to tell when symptoms are reflecting hormonal decline or imbalance.
Estrogen is the hormone of mental clarity
Estrogen is the hormone that produces the essence of femininity. It is powerful stuff that shapes the uniqueness of a woman’s mind, emotion and body. Estrogen powers the transformation from childhood to womanhood and sets the stage for implantation and nourishment of the early embryo. Estrogen makes a woman feel sensual, bringing fullness to the breasts, clarity to the mind, and moisture to the vagina. Estrogen is the foundation of female pride, vitality and sensuality. It is this essence that is lost when hormonal levels decline.
There are more than 300 bodily systems on which estrogen has a major effect. It affects bones, tissues and organs including the brain, liver, skin, urinary tract and circulatory system.
Three primary forms of estrogen
Estrogen is a broad category with three primary members, estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estradiol is produced in the ovaries by a process during which the androgen hormone androstenedione is converted to estrone, which is then converted to estradiol. Smaller amounts of estradiol are produced by the adrenal cortex, brain and arterial walls. Testosterone can also be converted into estradiol.
Estradiol is a growth hormone responsible for breast development as well as changes in the body’s shape, affecting joints and fat deposition as well as bones. Estradiol modifies fat structure and skin composition, and plays a significant role in a woman’s mental health. Sudden withdrawal, fluctuating levels, and periods of sustained low levels of estradiol correlate with mood depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
Estradiol has been shown repeatedly in studies to be protective of breast tissue when balanced with progesterone and testosterone. It restrains bone loss, and improves memory and sleep. Estradiol is what gives a woman soft supple skin, a full head of shiny hair, and the radiance associated with the term beauty.
Beware of too much estrone
Estrone is secreted by the ovaries and the adrenal cortex. It is the only form of estrogen that is present in any quantity in post-menopausal women, hence its nickname old lady estrogen. Estrone should exist in an ideal ratio of 1 to 2 with estradiol.
As women age and estradiol production declines this ratio becomes unbalanced, a condition that is strongly associated with breast cancer development. This is the primary reason that breast cancer does not usually develop until women have reached menopause and estradiol levels have declined enough to create a serious imbalance.
Estriol safeguards DNA
Estriol is a metabolite of estradiol and estrone that is made in the placenta during pregnancy. During this very critical time in life when the developing embryo is differentiating into hands, feet, eyeballs, brain and myriad other functional organs, it is bathed in estriol. Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. John Lee, pioneer researcher of women’s hormones, believed that this feature of estriol means it is highly protective of the DNA blueprint.
As long ago as 1987, estriol was unequivocally shown to be protective against cancer of the breast and uterus in a five-year clinical trial. This protective effect was attributed to estriol’s ability to induce a more mature state of glandular cells, rendering them less susceptible to damage by radiation and chemicals. It’s this mechanism by which early pregnancy results in as much as a 50 to 70 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer later in life.
Estriol noticeably reduces the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to researchers at UCLA Medical School. MS is a disease that strikes women at the time of hormonal decline.
Want to learn more about estrogen and other hormones? Many of the leading specialists in anti-aging have highly informative websites. Here are some of the best:
Published with permission from AlignLife. Original article link is here.