Both men and women have oestrogen in their bodies, but its levels are significantly higher in women after their menstrual periods start. It is mainly produced by the ovaries, fetoplacental unit and testicles, but the adrenal cortex located on top of each kidney also produces it in small amounts. Many people ask "what does oestrogen do in the body?" Its main role is to facilitate the process of menstruation, reproduction and menopause. Keep reading to learn more.
What Does Oestrogen Do?
1. Menstrual Cycle
During menstrual cycle, it sensitizes progesterone receptors, whereas progesterone sensitizes estrogen receptors. A change in the level of one hormone will affect the other as well. Oestrogen promotes growth of reproductive tissue and helps uterine lining to become thick. The levels of oestrogen come down in the first half of your menstrual cycle, but both progesterone and oestrogen fall quickly before the start of your period.
2. Fat Distribution
Oestrogen is responsible for increasing the number of alpha-adrenergic receptors in your lower body, which slows fat release. Research shows that oestrogen makes women store fat in the subcutaneous areas, especially in the legs, arms and under the skin. It is due to this particular reason that menopausal women are more likely to have more abdominal fat mainly since there is no oestrogen for fat distribution.
3. Changes in Mood
Oestrogen levels will have a direct impact on your mood. Low estrogen levels affect dopamine and serotonin, the chemicals responsible for making you feel good or stressed. Because of this, women after menopause or during menses experience severe mood swings.
4. Secondary Sexual Characters
Oestrogen plays an important role in the development of the female body. It helps slow down the increase in height in females during puberty, reduces muscle bulk and accelerates burning of fat. It also promotes growth of the endometrium during your menstrual cycle. It improves lubrication of the vagina, increases uterine growth and also increases blood vessels to the skin.
5. Other Functions
What's more, oestrogen helps develop the fetus as per their genetic code. Androgens like testosterone develop masculine features in the fetus, but estrogen feminizes the fetus. Similarly, oestrogen helps maintain human skin by improving collagen content and increasing skin thickness. Furthermore, oestrogen is extremely important for bone formation – it works with calcium, vitamin D and other hormones to rebuild bones as per your body's natural processes.
What Does Oestrogen Do in Pregnancy?
Now you already know the function of oestrogen in women's bodies. You may further want to learn a bit about the role of oestrogen during pregnancy. Although progesterone plays the main role during pregnancy, oestrogen is equally important. Oestrogen stimulates the placenta to produce progesterone that ensures healthy pregnancy. The levels of oestrogen will increase steadily through your pregnancy and play some vital roles as well. For instance, oestrogen helps maintain, control and stimulate the production of pregnancy hormones. It promotes correct development of fetal organs, including the liver, kidneys and lungs. It also helps prepare the mother for breastfeeding.
What Does Oestrogen Do in Males?
Research shows that oestrogen is important for men because it helps maintain their sex drive and keep obesity away. With decreased oestrogen levels, men may have to deal with diminished libido. This also makes them to put on weight. In fact, several issues that men think are associated with lower levels of testosterone are actually due to the oestrogen deficiency.
What Is the Normal Range of Oestrogen Level?
The normal range of oestrogen level varies depending on a person's age. Your oestrogen levels need to be around 149 pg/ml if you are between 20 and 29 years of age. For females between 30 and 39, the oestrogen level needs to be around 210 pg/ml. For women over 40, the levels up to 152 pg/ml are considered rather normal. This is for women who are not yet in menopause. You may have severe oestrogen deficiency if your levels are as low as 10-20 pg/ml.
What If Oestrogen Levels Are Too High?
In case your oestrogen levels are high, you will experience issues such as water retention, loss of libido, acne and extreme oiliness all over the body. Men may have small testicles with scrotum hanging too high. Some people may also experience soft erections, thin stream and hypertension. Lethargy, depression, aggression, extreme cravings for chocolate, pressure in lower abdomen when urinating and enlarged prostate are also signs that your oestrogen levels are high.
What If Oestrogen Levels Are Too Low?
What does oestrogen do when there is not enough of it? This is when you will experience issues such as dry lips, dry skin, loss of libido and sensitivity, mood swings, irritability and loss of appetite. Hesitation just before urinating, dull orgasm, constant fatigue, diuretic effect, itchy scalp, constipation and obsessive thoughts are other signs associated with low oestrogen levels.