Among all different kinds of hormones identified by scientists thus far, estrogen (a steroid hormone mostly produced in the ovaries) is the most extensively well-known as well as talked about. In fact, the word 'estrogen' denotes every member comprising a collection of comparable hormones produced through a chemical process. At times, hormones of the estrogen variety are incorrectly mentioned as adrenaline only produced by the females. On the contrary, the fact remains that both males and females manufacture estrogenic hormones. All said and done, scientists are yet to precisely ascertain the function of estrogen in males.

Before we attempt to comprehend the exact function of estrogens in females, it is essential to be aware of the overall facts and functions regarding hormones. Basically, hormones are fundamental organic materials found in humans as well as animals. Hormones are usually described as 'chemical messengers' and are able to transport data and commands directives from one cluster of cell to another cluster of cell. To be precise, hormones have control over more or less of all cells, organs and their performance in the human body. Elaborating, hormones control the development, working of the tissues, sexual activities, the manner the human body utilizes the ingested foodstuff, the response of the body during an urgent situation and also the frame of mind.

Functions of estrogen

It is important to note here that estrogens are exclusively in command for the enlargement and progress of the sexual features in the females. At the same time, these hormones are also responsible for the reproduction process in humans as well as animals. Scientifically speaking, the word 'estrogen' means a collection of similar hormones produced by a chemical process and they include estrone, estradiol and estriol. Among these three, estradiol is found plentifully. Generally speaking, estrogens are made in female ovaries, adrenal gland (an endocrine secreting mass of cells found over both kidneys) and fat tissues. To be more precise, while estradiol and estrone varieties are made in the ovaries, estriol is manufactured by the placenta (an organ found in the uterus of expecting mammals) for the duration of antenatal or pregnancy period.

In females, the estrogenic hormones pass through the blood vessels and connect to estrogen receptors or sensitive nerve endings found in the cells of affected tissues. They not only have an effect on the breast and uterus, but also influence the brain, heart, liver, bone and additional tissues. During the initial phase of menstrual cycle in women, estrogen hormones regulate the development of the cells lining the uterus. Later, they are responsible for the changes in a female's breasts during her puberty period and during the antenatal stage. The estrogenic hormones also control different metabolic procedures that take into account the development and expansion of the bones as well as the intensity of cholesterol in a female body.

Estrogenic hormones and pregnancy

Pituitary gland found in the brain produces hormones that result in the discharge of a new egg from its sac every month all through the reproductive period of a female. The gradual development of the follicle or the sac leads to the manufacture of estrogen that is responsible for thickening or coagulation of the uterus wall.

Manufacture of progesterone (a sex hormone produced in women) enhances sometime during the middle of a woman's ovulation phase or the sequence of production and release of eggs from the follicle to put the uterus lining in order to accept as well as nurture an impregnated egg or ovum to enable it to grow into a fetus or an unborn offspring. In case there is no impregnation, the intensity of estrogen as well as progesterone production falls drastically and the thickened uterus coating disintegrates resulting to menstruation.

However, in the instance of an impregnation, both estrogen and progesterone function in unison to put off production and release of fresh eggs or ovum during the pregnancy period. It is interesting to note that all birth control drugs or contraceptive pills seize the benefit of this development by controlling the intensity of hormone production in the female body. At the same time, the oral contraceptives cause the uterus lining to be extremely slender so that it is unable to accept an impregnated egg. This thin uterus coating is also known as the endometrium or a mucus film lining a womb. In addition, the birth control pills coagulate the slimy secretion from the cervix of the womb to stop the sperm from going into the cervix or neck of the womb and impregnate an ovum.

In addition, the birth control pills that enclose estrogen may perhaps alleviate the menstrual spasms as well as various perimenopausal symptoms. At the same time, oral contraceptive help in controlling menstrual cycles in women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or females having multiple cysts or ganglion in their ovary. What is more significant is that studies have shown the oral contraceptives have the potential of lessening the hazards of cancer of the ovary, uterus as well as colorectal.

Additional functions of estrogen

Estrogen, the vagina and urinary tract
Lower intensity of estrogen in the female body, especially during the menopause phase, causes the vagina to dry and makes the vagina lining even more slender. This in fact results to pain during sexual intercourse. In addition to the vaginal walls, even the lining of the uterus and the pipe that carries urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body too becomes thinner when the estrogen levels are low in a woman's body. At the same time, lower intensity of estrogenic hormones may lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs) in many women and this can be cured by using the vaginal estrogen therapy.
Estrogen and bone loss
It is important to note that estrogenic hormones manufactured by the ovary not only facilitates in putting off loss of bones, but also functions in unison with calcium and other regulating chemicals and minerals or inorganic nutritive substances to manufacture new bones. In fact, the disorder called osteoporosis takes place when the bones of a woman become very feeble and fragile to sustain regular functions of the body. The human body continuously manufactures and alters the bones through a procedure known as deposition and resorption. In fact, the woman's body produces more new bones than it can smash down only up to the age of 30 years. However, if the level of estrogen production drops even before this age, the process of developing new bones too begins to retard.
Hence, it is evident that after the menopause syndrome sets in a woman, her body tears down more bones than it can reconstruct. To be precise, it is possible for a woman to miss at least 20% of her bone mass. The pace of loss of bone mass becomes stable in a woman after her initial menopause stage. Nevertheless, it still has to face up to the fact of maintaining the bone arrangement physically powerful and in good physical shape to avoid symptoms of osteoporosis.
Perimenopause or the evolution to menopause
It is important to note that variable levels of estrogen during the change to menopause phase as well as in the later stages of menopause may lead to several other physical as well as emotive transformations in many women. The transitional phase in a woman from the menstrual to menopause is known as perimenopause. It has been found that in most women the duration of this phase is approximately for five years. These women suffer from several symptoms during this period and they include haphazard menstrual cycles, tenderness or soreness of the breast, intensification of migraine problems, lack of restrain on urinary stress as well as frequent mood changes. Apart from these symptoms, women undergoing perimenopause also suffer from hot flashes. Hot flashes are an abrupt feeling of heat on the face, neck and chest that often leads the person to excessive perspiration. At the same time, there is a sudden raise in the pulse beat and makes a woman experience giddiness or feel sick. Normally, such hot flashes last for about 3 to 6 minutes, but may continue for longer periods in some women. When hot flashes take place at night, it may disturb sleep.

Estrogen therapy

Estrogen therapy is basically a hormone treatment whereby women take estrogen orally, through their skin or the vagina. The estrogen therapy is normally prescribed to heal specific disorders like belated commencement of puberty and symptoms associated with menopause - hot flashes and symptomatic vaginal degenerate. In fact, the vaginal atrophy is a situation when a woman's vagina becomes contracted, inflexible and takes a lot of time to lubricate owing to very low estrogen intensity in the body. Estrogen therapy is also used to treat female hypogonadism, a situation when the ovaries lose their ability to function effectively. Clinical studies have confirmed that female hypogonadism also results to aridness of the vagina, breast atrophy or soreness as well as a reduced urge for sexual intercourse.

It may be mentioned here that since long the estrogen therapy and estrogen-progestin therapy were recommended to cure problems associated with menopause, thwart osteoporosis and also perk up the overall well being of the women. Nevertheless, now the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the medical practitioners to recommend menopausal hormone therapies at the minimum possible dosages and for the bare minimum period possible following the publication of two results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in July 2002 and March 2004 with a view to realize the precise objectives of the healing process.

The Women's Health Initiative or WHI was a study with 27,000 women respondents in the age group of 50 to 79 years who were already being administered estrogen therapy or estrogen/progesterone treatment. On an average the health reports of these respondents were monitored for a period of 5 to 6 years. Interestingly, this massive study failed to establish that the advantages of hormone therapy taken as a preventive measure were more than the perils associated with the treatment.

Research findings published by the National Cancer Institute in 2003 observed that there was a noteworthy fall in the percentage of the most widespread breast cancer - breast cancers caused by hormones among women. In 2006, researchers published another report on the subject hypothesizing that the significant drop in the rate of hormone related breast cancers in 2003 was primarily owing to the fact the many women discontinued using hormone therapy following the publication of an important government research that showed that hormone therapies somewhat enhanced the hazards of breast cancer, stroke and heart ailments among women. These researched further put forward the theory that discontinuing with the hormone therapy thwarted minute cancers from developing into tumors or lumps sufficiently big to be recognized by mammogram or breast X-ray and touch. The researchers were of the view that the tiny malignancies did not develop much as they did not receive any extra estrogen needed to stimulate their expansion.

All said and done, the estrogen therapy (ET) or hormone therapy (HT) still continues to be the most useful healing for hot flashes suffered by symptomatic menopausal women and women having untimely menopause. Apart from healing problems related to menopause in women, estrogen as well as other hormones is also recommended to cure disorders or complaints linked to reproductive health and endocrine or internal secretion problems. It may be noted here that the endocrine organism in the body controls the production and function of the hormones.

The hormone therapy is very effective in certain situations like belated puberty, contraception or means of preventing pregnancy, erratic menstrual cycles and symptomatic menopause.