The discussion here is about two things, a natural hormone, Estrogen and a natural human phenomenon, Menopause. So the first thing is to know about the two. Menopause is the period that starts 12 months after the last menstrual period of a woman. Though the range of attaining this stage is between 38 and 58, the age around 51 is often considered normal.
Estrogen is often called the female hormone as it is responsible for development of female sexual characteristics including reproduction and lactation and it is also the primary hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle. In fact, it is one of the four hormones that play important parts in regulation of the menstrual cycle in a female. This hormone also plays a vital role in preserving bone density, increase in uterine tissue growth, decreasing risk of heart diseases and accelerating metabolism.
Estrogen is a steroid compound hormone consisting of three hormones, estriol, estradiol and estrone. Of these estriol is the most important and it is secreted by the ovaries. Estrone is produced by the adrenal glands and estradiol is a byproduct of the other two and it is produced mainly in the liver.
Any abnormality in the level of estrogen can cause malfunction of the female human body. So a woman can suffer from weight gain, mood swings to irregular monthly periods and even infertility. When the level of estrogen is high it is medically called estrogen dominance. However, such high estrogen level can mean different things in different age groups and estrogen dominance is generally associated when the level is high in women below the age of 40.
The estrogen level generally maintains the right balance till a woman approaches menopause. It is at this time that the main imbalance in estrogen level is noticed. Menopause results from gradual decrease in estrogen level. Since estrogen plays an important role in a woman, its early decrease resulting in early menopause makes her vulnerable to risks of heart and bone diseases. So, many believe that having high level of estrogen till late in life is actually beneficial as it preserves the health of a woman for a longer period.
But when this level remains high even at the normal age when women generally are supposed to experience menopause then it becomes a matter of concern. High levels may defer the time of menopause and it can mean various problems too. The most common result is ovarian cancer. The risk factor increases if the length of the period of estrogen secretion is long. So a woman who started menstruation early and experienced late menopause is in a very high risk zone. Another group of women are at risk and they are those who had their menopause late due to various fertility treatments but could not complete their pregnancy cycle.
Since breast density is also directly related to estrogen level, having higher estrogen level can result in another type of problem, the problem of breast cancer. The risk group is that of women who have high breast density and a long reproductive period. This may include those who have late menopause naturally or those who have induced it with hormone treatment.