Estrogen and progesterone’s effects,
particularly those not related to pregnancy and menses
Estrogen and progesterone are considered female hormones but produced to a lesser
extent by men as well. Their primary functions have always been considered related to
the reproductive system, but they play a very important role in many other metabolic
processes. This is particularly important because their production is mostly in the gonads,
which shut down in the case of the ovaries and become less productive with age in the
case of the testis.
This is a very abbreviated description of their functions in the reproductive systems. For
men, estrogen is important in the maturation of sperm and may be related to a healthy
libido. Estrogen is higher in women of reproductive age and contributes to menstrual
regulation, the formation of breasts, and thickening of the endometrium and other aspects
of regulating the menstrual cycle. It is highest in women just before ovulation. The
presence of estrogen will cause a rise in progesterone. It prepares the uterine wall for
implantation. Progesterone levels rise after ovulation to inhibit the release of the egg by
limiting the ability for uterine contractions. It also inhibits uterine contractions during
pregnancy and needs to drop in order for contractions to begin. Progesterone also
participated as a substrate for the fetal corticosteroids. It is believed to be one of the
reasons for PMS irritability
The other functions of estrogen and progesterone are many and listed separately.
Estrogen is also produced in smaller amounts by other tissues such as the liver, adrenals,
and the breasts, which is one important reason to support those organs so they will be
healthy by menopause.
Is a player in maintenance of the vessels and skin.
Reduces bone resorption and increased bone formation.
Increases hepatic production of binding proteins.
Increases platelet adhesiveness.
Increases HDL, triglyceride, and fat depositions.
Salt and water retention. (Not sure which way but guessing decreases).
Reduces bowel motility.
Increases cholesterol in bile.
80% of breast cancers rely on the supply of estrogen to grow.
Lung function may be improved by estrogen.
Progesterone is produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, the corpus luteum after
ovulation, the brain, and during pregnancy, in the placenta.
Progesterone as a neourosteroid;
Is a neurosteroid which effects synaptic function.
It is neuroprotective and effects myelinization.
Cont. Progesterone and Estrogen
Progesterone may improve memory and cognitive ability.
As a neuroprotectant effects regulation of apoptotic genes.
As an inhibitor it is a bi-polar mood stabilizer like Lithium and Valproic acid.
Induces proliferation (used to sustain cultures of stem cells).
Progesterone in other systems:
Is thermogenic, raising the core temperature.
Reduces spasms and relaxes smooth muscles.
Widely present in submucosal tissue.
Anti-inflammatory and regulates the immune response.
Reduces gallbladder activity.
Normalizes blood clotting and vascular tone.
Participates in the homeostasis of zinc and copper levels and cell oxygen levels.
Helps with fat stores for energy.
Assists in thyroid function.
Assists in bone building by osteoblasts in bone teeth, gums, and joints tendon function.
Assists in healing by regulating myelin.
Progesterone appears to prevent endometrial cancer by regulating the effects of
There are many medical and cosmetic treatments using Estrogen and Progesterone.
These should not be used without consulting your health care provider. One
example is a shampoo that has progesterone and can cause early onset of sexual
development and should not be used by children!