Estrogen + Progesterone: The Importance Of Both

Progesterone and estrogen, do you know what they are? If I am being honest, I couldn't give you an actual definition of either. 'A type of hormone' would be my best response. The role and function they play in our bodies, I couldn't describe. These two primary hormones play a major role in our menstrual cycle.

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by the ovaries while you ovulate. Progesterone is made in smaller quantities by the adrenal glands too. Progesterone helps regulate menstruation and helps the body prepare itself for pregnancy. Too little progesterone can sometimes lead to a miscarriage.

Signs of low progesterone

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Hot flashes
  • PMS
  • Insomnia
  • Painful or lumpy breasts
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Spotting + abdominal pain

Weight gain and decrease in sex drive can be caused by low levels of progesterone, causing high levels of estrogen. As of right now, having a high level of progesterone does not seem to cause any negative health effects. There are blood tests your doctor can do to test your progesterone levels if you feel yours may be too low. Depending on what is going on and what you are looking for, there may be some treatments to help you boost your progesterone as well.

If you are looking to become pregnant, hormone therapy can be helpful in increasing progesterone levels and thickening your uterine lining. Irregular menstrual periods and abnormal bleeding may improve by using hormone therapy as well. If you are looking for more natural ways to boost your progesterone levels, you can try increasing your vitamin B and C intake, eat more foods with zinc, and one of the hardest ones, controlling your stress levels. I have found meditation and deep breathing practices to be very helpful with controlling stress levels.

What is estrogen?

Female physical features and reproduction are a result of the hormone steroid, estrogen. Estrogen is what helps set a girl up for puberty, helps with the menstrual cycle, and is very important for childbearing. A few other things estrogen is important for is keeping cholesterol in control and protecting bone health.

Our bodies make three types of estrogen, which is where a lot of my confusion stemmed from.

  • Estradiol is most common in women of childbearing age
  • Estriol is the main estrogen during pregnancy
  • Estrone the only estrogen the body makes after menopause

Sometimes, our bodies can make too little or too much estrogen. To test your estrogen, you can ask your doctor to do some blood work. I have mine tested every few months.

Signs of low estrogen

  • Menstrual periods that are less frequent or stop
  • Hot flashes or night sweats
  • Dry skin
  • Mood swings
  • Low sex drive
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dryness of vagina
  • menstrual migraines

Signs of high estrogen

  • Weight gain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Light or heavy bleeding
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Fibroids
  • Premenstrual symptoms may worsen
  • Fibrocystic breasts

It can be hard to figure out what is causing hormonal imbalances. Some factors can include poor sleep, diet, birth control, and even poor stress management. Unfortunately, imbalances of estrogen can stem from the environment we are in, making it a bit harder to control.

Learning the difference between these two hormones has helped me better understand what it is I may need to do to help control my hormonal imbalances, like maybe stopping my birth control or changing the type/dose, or learning to find a diet or food, that works for me, and/or having blood work done every few months to check my hormone levels. I am now more aware of both of these hormones.

Remember, I am not a medical professional. Speak with your doctor if you believe your hormone levels are off. This is all based off my own personal experiences and things I have learned by talking with my own doctor. 

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