Understanding Oestrogen, Progesterone & Their Related Hormones

Oestrogen and progesterone are the most prominent hormones in female sexual and reproductive functions. Oestrogen and progesterone are primarily responsible for the sexual and reproductive development in women. A woman who is getting treated by the best doctor for PCOS in Chennai would know that her menstrual cycle and pregnancy are regulated by the significant role of oestrogen and progesterone. Understanding these hormones requires a closer knowledge of the site of production, which is the ovaries in women. The ovaries are the female reproductive organs that produce and release the two groups of sex hormones, oestrogen, and progesterone.

Production of Oestrogen and Progesterone

Reproductive functions of the ovaries in the body are to produce oocytes and to secrete the reproductive hormones, oestrogen, and progesterone. The ovaries function under the control of gonadotropin-releasing hormone released from nerve cells in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The major hormones, oestrogen and progesterone secreted by the ovaries are both important hormones in the menstrual cycle. The first half of the menstrual cycle before ovulation is dominated by the production of oestrogen and the second half of the menstrual cycle by the production of progesterone. Both hormones are important in Preparing the lining of the womb for pregnancy and the implantation of a fertilized egg are the important functions of both hormones. Every time an oocyte is released from the ovary, the corpus luteum remains in the ovary to continue producing the hormones. If an oocyte gets fertilized and conception occurs during a menstrual cycle, the corpus luteum continues this function. These hormones allow the embryo to implant in the lining of the womb and form the placenta to begin the development of the foetus.

Understanding Oestrogen, Progesterone and Their Related Hormones

Understanding Oestrogen

Oestrogen is a combination of substances that work together to promote the healthy development of female sex characteristics during puberty and to ensure reproductive fertility. Substances of oestrogen can be broken down into three groups, known as :

  • Estradiol (E1) is the most common type of oestrogen found in women of childbearing age. They are specifically instrumental in breast development, distribution of fat in the hips, legs, and breasts, and the development of reproductive organs
  • Estrone (E2) is the only oestrogen group that the body can make after menopause and
  • Estriol (E3) is the main type of oestrogen secreted during pregnancy.

Other functions of oestrogen groups also include:

  • Keeping body cholesterol levels in control
  • Protecting bone health in women
  • Has impact on the emotions, mood, skin, hair, and other tissues

A simple blood test can be done to check any one of the three forms of the hormone. Oestrogen testing must be coordinated with the best gynecologist in Chennai for PCOS to understand the interpretation of the results.

Low oestrogen levels are experienced in women after menopause or post-surgical removal of the ovaries. Symptoms of low oestrogen are:

  • Less frequent or cessation of menstrual periods
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Vaginal dryness/ thinning
  • Low sexual desire
  • Dry skin
  • Migraines or headaches

Excess levels of oestrogen can lead to problems such as:

  • Heavy or light menstrual bleeding.
  • Weight gain and deposition of fat in the waist, hips, and thighs.
  • Increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
  • Fibrocystic breasts which are non-cancerous breast lumps
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety

Understanding Progesterone

Progesterone has the potential for pregnancy after ovulation as the hormone prepares the endometrium by triggering the endometrium to thicken and be ready to accept a fertilized egg. The muscle contractions in the uterus that would cause the fertilized egg to be rejected from the body are also stopped by progesterone. If the body produces continuous high levels of progesterone, ovulation will not occur.

If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum breaks down and progesterone levels are lowered to signal menstruation to begin. On successful conception, progesterone continues to be released in order to stimulate the body to enrich blood vessels in the endometrium required to feed the growing foetus. The placenta develops over time and secretes progesterone instead of the corpus luteum. This process maintains elevated levels of progesterone throughout pregnancy and thus prevents the body from producing more eggs. Progesterone also contributes to preparing breasts for lactation.

A serum progesterone test from a blood sample may be ordered if a woman is having trouble getting pregnant. The result can give an indication of whether ovulation is normal and also help in the diagnosis and management of potential fertility issue. A suspected pregnancy problem such as the risk of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage can also demand a progesterone test. An ectopic pregnancy that happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself anywhere other than the uterus or a miscarriage that happens in early pregnancy is both caused by low progesterone levels.

Low levels of progesterone in women can cause abnormal menstrual cycles or difficulty in getting pregnant as the progesterone level is not enough to trigger the required environment for a conceived egg to grow. Women with low progesterone levels may succeed in getting pregnant but are at higher risk for miscarriage or pre-term delivery because reduced progesterone levels may not help maintain the pregnancy. Symptoms of low levels of progesterone include:

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Irregular or missed menstrual periods
  • Abdominal cramps and spotting during pregnancy and
  • repeated miscarriages

Best gynecologist in Chennai for PCOS may also find that low levels of progesterone are causing oestrogen levels to remain elevated, leading to decreased sex drive, increased weight gain, or gallbladder problems.

Other related hormones

There are other hormones that are produced by the pituitary gland and carried in the bloodstream to control the menstrual cycle. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates the development of the maturing ovarian follicle during the first half of the menstrual cycle and thus controls ovum production. Luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates the ovaries to produce oestrogen and progesterone, triggers ovulation, and promotes the development of the corpus luteum.

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