Estrogen hormone function in females

As a group, the three estrogens have fundamental tasks. First, estrogens function in the development of the breasts, ovaries and uterus from the time of adolescence through the reproductive years. Second, estrogens function in the menstrual cycle itself, as we’ve already seen.

Does estrogen affect only the reproductive cycle?

No. Estrogen affects other areas of the body, too. The tissues in the cervix, vagina and bladder are sensitive to estrogen levels in the bloodstream. Estrogen helps bones absorb calcium, keeping bone mass high and bones strong. And in the blood itself, estrogen raises the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), the so-called good cholesterol, while lowering the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the so-called bad cholesterol.

Does estrogen do its work alone?

No. Estrogen is assisted by progesterone, another female hormone produced by the ovaries. Briefly, in the process of reproduction, estrogen’s primary task is to build up the lining of the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. If an egg is fertilized, progesterone prepares the uterus to accept the egg so that the egg can grow. If the egg is unfertilized, progesterone assists in shedding the uterine lining, which, as you know, causes the normal bleeding called menstruation.

From the time a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes regular until her childbearing years end (generally between ages 45 and 55), her body is on a monthly cycle of hormone release and response, as we’ve described.


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