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sexual health

Estrogen: A 3-Part Series

Estrogen is a natural hormone produced by the body, and although it is most commonly associated with women, estrogen occurs in men as well. There are a few vital contributions that estrogen has to the healthy development of our bodies, especially when it comes to puberty and reproduction. But, there are times when our bodies may produce too much or too little estrogen; when that happens, shifts occur and a number of symptoms may arise. In this 3-part series, we will go through what estrogen is, the various under- and over-production effects of estrogen in women, and lastly, we’ll take a peek into how estrogen plays a role in a man’s overall health. In this article, you’ll get a simple overview of what estrogen’s role is in our bodies.

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The first thing you need to know about estrogen is that it is produced naturally in the body with fluctuating highs and lows throughout a woman’s cycle. The highest is in the middle of the menstrual cycle and the lowest during your period. As we stop ovulating, estrogen levels drop, this explains the connection between low levels of estrogen and menopause.

Known as the sex hormone, estrogen contributes to a variety of functions:

  • turns a girl into a “woman” through puberty – growth of breasts and pubic hair, and start of menstrual cycles
  • important to childbearing
  • keeps cholesterol in control
  • protects bone health (for example, osteoporosis)
  • affects your brain (mood), heart (decreased estrogen can bring on increased inflammation), skin (dry), and other tissue (vaginal walls)

Estrogen is just one of the hormones that plays a role in the normal sexual and reproductive development in women. Women with low levels of estrogen who are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, might be put on hormone therapy which will introduce extra estrogen to the body to help simulate the hormone cycle. For women who are trying to ward off pregnancy, birth control acts as a bio-identical hormone supplement to maintain levels of estrogen (and progesterone); without a surge in estrogen, your ovaries will not release an egg.

The effects of increased or decreased estrogen levels in the body extend beyond whether our reproductive organs can successfully do their jobs or not. As our sex hormones are not solely made to reproduce, one of estrogen’s other functions is to keep the walls of the vagina lubricated with clear fluid and the lining healthy, thick, and elastic. By maintaining healthy levels of lubrication, the vagina welcomes penetration (i.e. sexual intercourse) without distress or pain. Should the levels of estrogen dip, this can impact the amount of moisture available, making sexual intercourse less enjoyable due to dryness.

Vaginal dryness is a treatable symptom of reduced estrogen levels. Also known as vaginal atrophy or GSM (Genitourinary Symptoms of Menopause), this condition can lead to distressing urinary symptoms. Vaginal estrogen cream has been the only therapy available up to recently. But now, through Vaginal laser Therapy (diVa) or the O-Shot PRP Therapy, we can restore function and appearance of the vagina both internally and externally. Your sexual desire will often return and vaginal lubrication will increase, helping you maintain healthy vaginal function and allowing sexual intercourse to be more pleasurable.

Estrogen plays a vital role in a woman’s development. As we saw, estrogen helps with the reproductive aspect of being a woman (puberty, menstrual cycles, childbearing), but it also helps with a woman’s overall health from affecting mood and behaviour to producing natural lubrication in the vagina.

There is so much to learn about estrogen, in our next blog, we’ll talk more in depth about what happens when your body produces too little or too much estrogen. We’ll take a look vaginal dryness as well as all of the treatments available.

It’s important to know your body and understand what is going on beneath the surface. It may seem like you don’t have control over the what your body naturally does on its own, but you do – and by paying close attention to your behaviour and general health, you can play an active role in tending to your happiness and overall well-being.

 

Dr. Steinberg

Elna Sexual Wellness Was Created for You

The Elna Sexual Wellness clinic was created with one vision in mind: to provide a safe space for people to restore and enhance their sexual health. What does that mean?

Sexual wellness includes a wide spectrum of topics ranging from physiological health to psychological wellness. At times an issue might take on a physiological manifestation when in fact the cause lies in an unhealthy thought process. Or, sometimes the opposite is true: the mind is stressed or anxious and so your body responds by malfunctioning. Most often, when it comes to matters of sexual health, the root of any issue is a healthy dose of both body and mind. By taking a holistic approach to our patient’s overall well-being, we are able to best assess what the core of the issue is and from there provide a better and more precise targeted treatment program.

Sexual wellness is open communication. Sexual wellness is maintaining healthy function over your body parts. Sexual wellness is understanding yourself, your limits, what feels good and right, and what feels comfortable. Sexual wellness is a vital aspect of your life.

First and foremost, establishing open and honest communication with your partner is fundamental in establishing a sexual relationship that works on a highly functional level. Before you can explore a frank dialogue with your partner about intimate matters, it is important that you take the first step in taking the conversation inward through self-exploration and self-reflection. By building a strong sense of what a healthy sex life looks like to you, you will better be able to articulate that to your partner.

Sexual wellness is open communication

Counselling is instrumental in getting the ball rolling. Whether you have an issue on your mind or if you’re curious about what is “right,” “normal,” or “common” when it comes to sex, a sex therapist can help unpack any ideas or misconceptions you might currently be holding that are hindering you from a healthy sex life. The notion that there is an established set of rules as to what is considered “normal,” for example is something that a counsellor can help you think about; sexuality is a highly cultured and socialized topic, and so by having an impartial expert with whom to discuss matters, is a healthy place to start. By exploring notions that keep you bound in thoughts and feelings that might not belong to you, you can free yourself of conventions and rules that aren’t yours. All of this is done with the utmost discretion and confidentiality.

Sexual wellness is maintaining healthy function over your body parts

Our mission is to restore and/or enhance your sexual wellness. We have a multidisciplinary approach to treating men and women on their sexual health; with every issue that is brought forth, there is opportunity to build a multi-layered treatment plan that integrates all parts of the being both body and mind. Urology plays a strong role in sexual wellness in treating anything from erectile dysfunction and painful intercourse to low sex desire (or low libido) and incontinence. With cutting-edge treatments and technologies, we treat with oral or topical medications, non-invasive procedures, counselling, and more. It’s all about finding the right fit for you and making sure you feel the most at ease with whichever program we decide to proceed with.

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Sexual wellness is understanding yourself

Elna Sexual Wellness holds no judgment. Our patient-doctor confidentiality is set in place so that you feel comfortable diving deep into your thoughts so we can best understand where you are coming from. Our discretion and confidentiality is our promise. The safer you feel, the more chance we have of restoring your sexual wellness.

A healthy intimate relationship is something we strive to achieve when working with individuals seeking to improve or restore full function of their physical body and mind when it comes to sexual matters. There are far too many people living with anything from discomfort to embarrassment, but it shouldn’t have to be that way. That’s why we created the Elna Sexual Wellness clinic—to offer a holistic approach to treating your sexual wellness, because #sexmatters.

-The Elna Sexual Wellness team