Estrogen is a naturally occurring set of hormones responsible for female reproduction and the development of sexual characteristics. Males also produce small amounts of estrogen. The HealthyWomen website notes that estrogen has effects on metabolism, sexual functions and mood. Lower levels of estrogen, such as during menopause, can alter physiological processes and can alter bone density and cause urinary problems. Many women use estrogen replacement to combat these effects.
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Estrogen promotes the production of osteoblasts, or cells that produce bone. According to HealthyWomen, estrogen produced in the ovaries prevents bone loss by working in conjunction with calcium, vitamin D and other hormones that maintain bone health. When women have low estrogen levels, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases. Estrogen replacement therapy can help prevent osteoporosis. Estrogen replacement is ideally started during early menopause to maximize the benefit of bone preservation, according to the EndocrineWeb website.
Protects the Heart and Brain
The Cleveland Clinic notes that estrogen benefits the heart by increasing high density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol, while also decreasing low density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol. Accumulation of bad cholesterol in the arteries results in plaque buildup that leads to cardiovascular disease. Estrogen also aids in relaxing dilated blood vessels to promote increased blood flow. Although hormone replacement therapy is potentially useful, the Cleveland Clinic indicates that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend hormone replacement therapy as a means of preventing cardiovascular problems.
According to a report on News--Medical.net, estrogen is beneficial in protecting brain function of premenopausal women that have had the ovaries removed. Ovary removal is often necessary in the event of cancer risk. The ovaries are responsible for estrogen production, so estrogen therapy is started after ovary removal to maintain hormonal balance.
Eases Symptoms of Menopause
During menopause, many women experience a feeling of occasional intense heat, known as hot flashes. They often experience other symptoms, such as sleep disturbance and mood swings. Estrogen replacement can help alleviate these symptoms. HealthyWomen further notes that vaginal dryness during menopause is problematic for some women, resulting in painful sex. Vaginal estrogen therapy aids in alleviating dryness as well as preventing possible urinary tract infections associated with menopause, due to thinning of the urethra.