Understanding hormones

Estrogen Role and Effects

Estrogen is produced in the ovaries. Estrogen is essential to a woman’s physical and psychological well-being, affecting everything from appearance to reproductive ability. This hormone is produced in the ovaries and formed from a combination of the corpus luteum, or what remains of the follicle after ovulation, and developing egg follicles. Estrogen can also be produced by the breasts, liver, and adrenal glands, albeit in smaller concentrations which account for less than 10% of total production.

Estrogen’s function within the female body is vast and complex; thus, an estrogen imbalance has the potential to affect women in a variety of ways. To learn more about the role and effects of estrogen, continue reading.

Role of Estrogen in the Female Body

Estrogen is known as the “chemical messenger” due to its ability to transmit messages between cells. Estrogen is fundamental to the formation of female sexual characteristics and reproductive function. It carries out a range of tasks for women that include:

  • Promoting the formation of female sexual characteristics
  • Accelerating metabolism
  • Helping to regulate the menstrual cycle
  • Increasing uterine growth
  • Preserving bone density
  • Protecting against heart disease
  • Preserving skin tension

As well as the physical effects, estrogen has also been shown to play a key role in women’s mental health. Several recent studies have shown a direct correlation between estrogen levels and mood. Sudden estrogen withdrawal, estrogen fluctuations, or periods of sustained low estrogen levels can all contribute to a poor mood, particularly in menopausal women.

Effects of Estrogen in the Female Body

In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle, estrogen affects the reproductive tract, the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain.

The effects of the estrogen in each area of the body are:

Effects of Estrogen

  • Brain. Estrogen helps to maintain body temperature. Estrogen may delay memory loss.
  • Breast. Estrogen prepares the glands for future milk production.
  • Heart and Liver. Estrogen helps to regulate the liver´s production of cholesterol, thus decreasing the build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries.
  • Ovary. Estrogen stimulates the maturation of ovaries.
  • Uterus. Estrogen stimulates the maturation of the uterus.
  • Bone. Estrogen helps to preserve bone density.
  • Vagina. Estrogen helps to maintain a lubricated and thick vaginal lining.

The Effects of Fluctuating Estrogen Levels

Normal estrogen levels are important as they control other key functions including: tissue function, sexual function, and mood. Also, normal estrogen levels are vital to the reproductive system and even more critical if a woman is trying to conceive. If normal estrogen levels fluctuate in any way, it can cause a variety of negative effects.

The Effects of High Estrogen Levels

Below are some of the most commonly experienced symptoms that may indicate abnormally high estrogen levels:

Physical ConditionsMental Conditions
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Vaginal infection
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Low self esteem

In addition to the physical and psychological signs outlined above, high estrogen levels can lead to a host of side effects and more serious conditions. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rheumatoid ArthritisAllergies
  • Strokes
  • Heart disease
  • Lupus
  • Breast and uterine cancer
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid dysfunction

The Effects of Low Estrogen Levels

When a woman has low estrogen levels, this impacts her physical and mental state. Examples of health problems triggered by estrogen deficiency include:

Physical ConditionsMental Conditions
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Joint pain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry skin
  • Loss of libido
  • Thinning tissues
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Bloating
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight gain
  • Low back pain
  • Mood swings
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty concentrating

Difficulty concentrating is a health problem triggered by estrogen deficiency.


Low estrogen levels do not necessarily trigger the conditions listed above but they can indicate a lack of estrogen. Two of the most worrying side effects of low estrogen levels are an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

Now that the roles and effects of estrogen in the body have been explained, continue reading to better understand how to identify estrogen imbalance using estrogen tests.

Estrogen and Menopausal Hot Flashes

Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women and it plays a significant role in order to control hot flashes that take place during menopause. Fluctuations in the levels of estrogen in the body cause a number of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes. Keep reading to learn more about (...)

Q&A: Estrogen, Early Puberty, and the Consequences

Young girls are becoming women earlier and earlier with breast development, menstruation, and production of sex hormones occurring before the onset of teenage years. Environmental estrogens, obesity and food additives are just a few factors that may have an effect of the role of estrogen in women’s health from (...)

The Different Functions of Estrogen
The Different Functions of Estrogen

Estrogen functioning affects both the mind and the body. Estrogen hormones control serotonin levels, which helps to control mood. Estrogen also controls the production and distribution of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are also called the happy hormone; when they are not being produced at the same rate, women (...)

Treatments for Estrogen Imbalance: Three Approaches

It is recommended to begin with the least aggressive approach and move to the next level of treatment only if necessary.

lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, drugs and surgery lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, drugs and surgery lifestyle changes, alternative remedies, drugs and surgery

Learn more: Treatments for Estrogen Imbalance