We often think of Estrogen as a single substance, as well as powerful sex hormone and a player in how we experience menopause. However, there are actually three different hormones that fall under the estrogen umbrella: Estradiol, estrone and estriol.
Estradiol is the strongest and most prevalent of the estrogens and contributes to many critical functions in your body. It’s the primary hormone that regulates your menstrual cycle, including the thickness of your uterine wall. Estradiol stimulates the cells that build bones and supports your cardiovascular health by influencing the balance of insulin and blood sugar. This multitasking hormone assists in maintaining your memory, protecting your nerve cells, and keeping your eyes moist.
Estrone is the second most potent estrogen hormone, and it’s often labeled the ‘bad’ estrogen. An excess of this hormone can be harmful to your breast and uterine cells, as it’s thought to play a role in the development of cancer. The hormone is produced in your fat cells, so women with excess body fat are more likely to be estrone dominant. Estrone dominance can be further intensified by high alcohol consumption.
Estriol is the mildest of the estrogens. It’s referred to as the ‘good’ estrogen as it blocks the harmful effects of estrone on the breast and uterine cells. Recent research has indicated that it may have positive effects on your autoimmune system and provides significant benefits during menopause when used in conjunction with estradiol.
Estrogen plays a role in skin care in a couple of ways. First, estradiol plays a role in wrinkle prevention, because it has antioxidant properties that protect your skin from the aging process. The decrease in estradiol at menopause is one of the reasons your skin loses elasticity, dries out, and wrinkles after menopause. Second, many of the skin care products on the market are made with questionable ingredients that are considered hormone disruptors because they mimic the action of estrogen in your body. These substances may be harmful in that their prolonged use may play a role in the development of gynecological cancers, such as breast or uterine cancer. Scientists continue to study the role of the estrogen your body produces as well as the synthetic hormone disruptors on your health.