The Multifaceted Influence of Estrogen on Women’s Health
Ovarian hormones play diverse roles in a woman’s health apart from the regulation of reproduction. Estrogen hormone influences neuroendocrine, skeletal, adipose, and cardiovascular systems. Beginning from adolescence to the transition to menopause, high levels of estrogen hormones maintain an equilibrium in health.
However, menopause and aging break this equilibrium as the protective effect of estrogen wanes, thereby exposing women to various health problems. Estrogen is known to decrease cholesterol levels as it aids in the oxidation of lipids rather than their deposition. This protective effect is lost during the transition phase when menstrual cycles become irregular and also during menopause.
In the absence of estrogen, lipids tend to get deposited, especially in blood vessels, a condition called atherosclerosis, which causes the narrowing of the vessel’s lumen. Menopause leads to a seven-fold increase in coronary artery sclerosis.
Estrogen and Vascular Integrity
Estrogen maintains the integrity of blood vessels and contributes to their smooth functioning. It does so through various mechanisms that help in regulating blood pressure. As a result, the prevalence of hypertension-related cardiovascular complications is higher in menopausal women.
Estrogen and Obesity
Obesity becomes more prevalent when there is a decline in estrogen levels. This phenomenon is associated with decreasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agents, which correlate with an increased risk of heart and vascular disease.
Estrogen and Glucose Metabolism
Before menopause, premenopausal women exhibit an enhanced capability for glucose metabolism. However, this advantage is lost in menopause, in part due to a reduction in circulating estrogen hormones, which can lead to diabetes.
The Link to Metabolic Syndrome
Diabetes, hypertension, abnormal cholesterol levels, and obesity together constitute a syndrome called Metabolic Syndrome. This syndrome not only predisposes women to cardiovascular diseases but also increases the risk of breast and uterine cancer.
Evidently, estrogen hormone plays a significant role in maintaining a woman’s health during her premenopausal years. It’s imperative that a woman maintains a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight during her menstruating years, especially in the premenopausal period, to defer the onset of diseases during menopause and to enjoy a higher quality of life.