Estrogen and progesterone are the two dominant female sex hormones produced by the ovaries, as well as the adrenal glands. In a healthy woman, these two hormones are in balance. Estrogen helps the uterine lining develop and is important for ovulation. Estrogen levels normally peak just before ovulation, and then slowly drop off in the second half of a woman’s cycle.
Progesterone is known as the relaxing hormone in the body. It maintains the uterine lining and is necessary for embryo development. Normally, progesterone levels start to rise just before ovulation, and peak around day 21. If a woman does not become pregnant, progesterone levels fall, the uterine lining is then shed and a period begins.
Common conditions occur under the umbrella of “estrogen dominance”, when there is significantly more estrogen than progesterone creating health issues such as PMS, migraines or headaches, anxiety or low mood, food cravings, digestive issues, and weight gain.
Estrogen dominance also exists in men, when there is significantly more estrogen than testosterone. This becomes an issue when “aromatization” occurs whereby the body prefers conversion of testosterone to estrogen. In aromatization, men may develop more breast tissue, abdominal weight gain, reduced libido, reduced sexual function, and difficulty maintaining lean muscle mass.
These important hormones are the primary players that shift as women enter into perimenopause. To learn more about how these hormones fluctuate during this time and how you can support your transition through pre-, peri- and post-menopause, click here.