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The three major naturally-occurring estrogens in women are estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).
While estrogens are present in both men and women, they are usually present at significantly higher levels in women of reproductive age. They promote the development of female secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, and are also involved in the thickening of the endometrium and other aspects of regulating the menstrual cycle. In males, estrogen regulates certain functions of the reproductive system important to the maturation of sperm and may be necessary for a healthy libido.
Estrogen and other hormones have been given for symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, urinary stress incontinence, chilly sensations, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and sweating.
Progesterone is an endogenous steroid hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and formation of an embryo of humans and other species. Progesterone is produced in high amounts in the ovaries (by the corpus luteum) from the onset of puberty to menopause, and is also produced in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands after the onset of adrenarche in both males and females. To a lesser extent, progesterone is produced in nervous tissue, especially in the brain, and in adipose (fat) tissue.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group and is found in mammals, reptiles, birds, and other vertebrates. In mammals, testosterone is secreted primarily by the testicles of males and the ovaries of females, although small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands. It is the principal male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid.
In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Testosterone is essential for health, well-being, and the prevention of osteoporosis. On average, in adult males, levels of testosterone are about 7–8 times as great as in adult females, but, as the metabolic consumption of testosterone in males is greater, the daily production is about 20 times greater in men.
DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands and is converted on command to specific hormones the body needs to maintain bodily functions, such as the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. DHEA is also responsible for producing hormones that control fat and mineral metabolism, as well as stress. However, researchers have found that our body has specific DHEA receptors, proving that DHEA directly affects our body in some way. Overall, it is responsible for maintaining “youthful vigor, a lean body and many other desirable traits.”
Unfortunately, natural levels of DHEA hit peak levels around the age of twenty and then decrease as we age. In fact, levels of DHEA when we are 80 are only 10% to 20% that of levels at age 20. Many researchers believe that decreasing levels of DHEA contribute to symptoms normally associated with aging, as well as many degenerative conditions such as cancer and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.