What Is Estrogen?
Estrogen hormones are female sex hormones found in both women and men (where they are thought to play a role in sperm maturation and male libido), but are produced in much higher levels in women of childbearing age. These steroid hormones are primarily responsible for the growth and development of female sexual characteristics, regulation of the menstrual cycle, and management of the reproductive system. They are also under ongoing neuroscientific investigation for their role in brain function and health, particularly as they relate to aging.
During a woman's lifetime, estrogen levels will often fluctuate, rising during puberty and remaining at healthy levels until her 40s and 50s, or the beginning of menopause. At this point, estrogen production significantly drops, signaling the end of natural fertility and impacting the brain in ways that may be associated with mood changes, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and diminished neuroprotection.
All About Women's Health
Estrogen production impacts women’s health in a variety of ways, from protection against memory loss and dementia, to management of sleep cycles, to reproductive health. American women experience menopause at an average age of 51. Menopause, and its associated drop in estrogen production, can inflict sudden and sometimes severe health problems on women. Research shows that infusions of estrogen can treat the depression that sometimes accompanies menopause. But not all menopause treatments are created equal, and it’s crucial to be able to distinguish effective treatments from well-marketed snake oil.