What Is Estradiol?
Estradiol is a female sex hormone and steroid produced by the ovaries, adrenal gland and in the placenta during pregnancy. It is a major estrogen. [R]
It is produced from progesterone, which is another sex hormone, through a number of reactions to give 17β-estradiol.
Estradiol Drives Female Development
Estradiol drives the development of the secondary sex characteristics which begins at the time of puberty and decline after menopause.
It acts as a growth hormone in the tissues in the reproductive organs of women supporting the cervical glands, the lining of the fallopian tubes and the vagina. It is also responsible for breast development.
Estradiol helps maintain the egg cells in the ovaries.
During the menstrual cycle, estradiol triggers the events which lead to the hormone surge that induces ovulation.
Estradiol also plays a role in pregnancy. High levels can make becoming pregnant difficult and it is sometimes used in birth control pills, while at normal levels it is crucial for the maintenance of pregnancy.
Estradiol Supports Bone Development
Estradiol is needed to for adequate bone growth and the maintenance of bones and joints.
Estrogen deficiency was found to form both early and late forms of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and contributes to the development of osteoporosis in elderly men. It contributes to the increase in bone resorption due to an increase in osteoclasts, which are cells that absorb bone tissue during bone growth and healing.[R]
This leads to decreased bone mass and bone strength since estrogen prevents the differentiation (specialization of cells to its function) of osteoclasts and therefore reduces their number.[R]
The Brain Also Produces Estradiol
Estradiol is also produced in the brain and has been shown to have neuroprotective (preservation of neuronal structure/ function) effects.
The effect of estradiol on the developing brain may include the establishment of sex differences, where the male and female brains are differentiated. Estradiol also promotes or prevent cell death (apoptosis) in some parts of the developing brain. For this reason, large doses of estradiol can also be toxic. [R]
Estradiol also plays a role in the creation of synapses between nerve cells in the brain, it may inhibit or promote this process depending on the location within the brain. It also influences the physiology of developing neurons in the brain. [R]
Estradiol Is Produced in Males
Estradiol is also present in males, aiding sperm maturation. It can also delay programmed cell death (apoptosis) of sperm cells which increases the likelihood of fertilisation during intercourse.
It is important in modulating libido, erectile function and the formation of sperm. [R]
High levels of estradiol, however, may decrease sperm count.
Estrogen May Increase The Risk of Cancer
High levels of estradiol in men may also increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Ways To Reduce Estradiol Levels
Reducing the level of aromatase enzyme activity, which is an important enzyme for the production of estradiol, can reduce the level of estradiol in the body. This can be done by:
- Reducing your body fat.
- Increasing Zinc intake which is a inhibitor of aromatase, as well as selenium and magnesium.
- Increase intake of phytoestrogens which reduce the effects of estrogen.[R] This can be done by including soy, flaxseeds, sesame, leafy greens, alfalfa, legumes, herbal teas like red clover or green tea in your diet. [R]
- Reduce carbohydrates in your diet to reduce insulin resistance since a high carbohydrate diet can increase estrogen levels.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
There are also drugs available to help reduce estradiol levels in the body.