The Ups and Downs of Estrogen

lilyAnd the ins and outs, as we shall see, girls!  Estrogen is very necessary for all things female. In fact, if you are approaching menopause or have passed through that barren land, you don’t need me to tell you about estrogen necessity. Once the needle on a your gas tank dips low, a flash indicates it’s time to fill up or run out. When the needle on estrogen runs into the red, the body does the exact same thing, with a hot flash. The trouble is, a menopausal pit stop is nowhere in sight. After a while, we begin to feel we’re running out of gas and should maybe pull over and let traffic go by.

What in the world causes hot flashes, anyway? Web MD gives them a vague nod…….changes in circulation…….or something. This is, in fact, how many of us view a life-changer like menopause and its resultant estrogen depletion. A sea-change……or something..…is going on here!

But, they say its all normal.

Hmm.

Mayo Clinic doesn’t put themselves out on a limb over definitions, either. They report:  ‘The exact cause of hot flashes isn’t known, but it’s likely related to several factors. These include changes in reproductive hormones and in your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus), which becomes more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature.’

And then what?

Apparently, Mayo Clinic doesn’t want to discuss it to the point of unpleasantness, remaining prudently within the realm of clinical symptoms.

Let’s just get a little unpleasant….entirely among friends, shall we? Estrogen has strong influences on skin texture and bone density. That is why many of us, hit hard with hot flashes, are blind-sided with wrinkles, as well. The drying up of estrogen dries up the skin at it’s deepest layers. That’s why I would suggest putting a hold on payments to that miracle skin lotion.

Along with a new and baffling lack of  sexual desire, there comes the drying up of lady parts, too. This is where the ‘ins and outs’ come in for just ordinary sex. In and out can become another unpleasant…..discussion, as action will be limited.

Many of us develop achy joints at this juncture, as well. In this territory Web MD gets pretty specific: ‘There is a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen during perimenopause and menopause and the development of osteoporosis. Early menopause (before age 40) and any prolonged periods in which hormone levels are low and menstrual periods are absent or infrequent can cause loss of bone mass.’

So that doesn’t sound very healthy or ‘normal’ either, does it? It sounds as though estrogen will put everything right for everybody…..right?

Well, no. If you are fat you probably had a little cushier menopause, a little later, a little milder. Why? Because fat creates estrogen. This sounds positively……..positive. Unfortunately, that may not be so. Livestrong.com reports:

‘One theory suggests that breast and endometrial cancer is linked to the overproduction of estrogen. Since fat cells also produce estrogen, obesity appears to increase the risk of breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, postmenopausal women would normally have lower estrogen levels, but obese postmenopausal women maintain higher levels than their slimmer counterparts, which might stimulate the growth of breast cancer after menopause. Obese women of any age are two to four times more likely to get endometrial cancer than normal-weight women, partially because of higher levels of estrogen.’

Fat converts testosterone into estrogen for fat guys, too, creating the be-diffling dilemma of ED.

All in all, not a pretty picture for either sex.

So you’re slat-thin and had an early and difficult menopause? Par for the course, dear. We now know that body fat creates estrogen. You had none, so no extra hormone was created when your ovaries quit producing estrogen. Tiny and slim in youth often morphs into hunched and shriveled when old.

Sounds like menopause hosts an equal-opportunity event, doesn’t it?

Anyway, we can probably come to the conclusion that a normal amount of estrogen, whatever that was, kept our body temperatures stable, our bones strong, and our skin pliable.

Estrogen replacement, a taboo topic for most docs in the early 2000’s,  has become a hot-button issue once again, as women are realizing that, in most of human female history,  the natural process of menopause in the biological world meant that soon life would be over, so there was no need to waste precious bodily resources on reproduction. Today a woman can live 50 years past the finale of her last menstrual period.

So, uh…….how do I want to live the second half of my life?

Good question! We’ll pick it up tomorrow!

 

 

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