Estrogen is the major sex hormone found in women. Men also have estrogen but it is not in as high amounts as those found in women. Estrogen helps determine a woman from a man as it is responsible for the development of gendered characteristics in women.
Secondary sex characteristics such as breasts, smooth skin, less facial hair, wider pelvic bones, fluid retention, body fat in the buttocks, thighs and hips are all a result of estrogen. Most importantly, estrogen is crucial for the regulation of the menstrual cycle and it helps thicken the uterus in preparation for pregnancy.
The ovaries are responsible for most of the estrogen production. Other organs contribute a small amount of estrogen to the body, these organs include the liver, breasts and adrenal glands. Estrogen contains three main compounds. These compounds are estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Estradiol is the main type of estrogen produced. A little bit of testosterone also contributes to the production of estradiol.
Estrogen levels begin to fall at the onset of menstruation. For a woman to stay healthy, estrogen is very important, especially during her reproductive years from the onset of menstruation to menopause. Without estrogen menopausal women experience hot flashes, fatigue, memory problems, vaginal dryness, irritability and a decrease in bone density. The decrease in bone density is the reason why older women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men. The extreme decrease in estrogen is quite difficult for some women to handle. However, estrogen replacement therapy is available these women.