How Estrogen Affects Your Metabolism?

how estrogen affects your metabolism

Estrogen plays a significant role in regulating metabolism, the process by which your body converts food into energy. This article dives deep into the science behind estrogen and its impact on metabolism.

What is Estrogen?

Estrogen is an important hormone made in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and fatty tissue. Men also produce small amounts of it. Estrogen plays a vital role in female fertility and reproduction, working alongside another sex hormone progesterone. These hormones fluctuate during a woman’s menstrual cycle to prepare the body for pregnancy and support a healthy gestation.

Additionally, estrogen is vital for maintaining a healthy metabolism. The body produces three distinct types of estrogen

Types of Estrogen and Their Functions:

The human body produces three primary estrogen types, each with distinct functions:

  1. Estradiol (E2): The dominant estrogen during a woman’s reproductive years. E2 levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, peaking around ovulation to prepare the body for potential pregnancy. As women age, E2 production naturally declines, leading to menopause.
  2. Estriol (E3): Primarily produced during pregnancy by the placenta, E3 supports fetal development and prepares the body for childbirth. Low levels of E3 during pregnancy may indicate potential complications.
  3. Estrone (E1): Circulates in lower amounts throughout life but becomes the most prevalent estrogen after menopause. High levels of E1 can raise the chances of developing uterine cancer. This is because E1 can change into more potent forms of estrogen in specific tissues.

Estrogen’s Impact on Metabolic Processes:

Estrogen interacts with specific receptors located in various tissues, including fat cells (adipose tissue), muscle tissue, and the liver, influencing key metabolic processes:

  • Fat Storage and Burning: Estrogen helps store fat in hips and thighs, which is healthier than storing fat around organs. It also plays a role in inhibiting the accumulation of visceral fat. Declining estrogen levels, particularly during menopause, may lead to a shift towards unhealthy visceral fat storage.
  • Insulin Sensitivity: Estrogen helps maintain healthy insulin sensitivity, a crucial factor in regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin, made by the pancreas, helps glucose enter cells for energy. When cells are insulin-sensitive, they respond efficiently to insulin, keeping blood sugar levels in check. Low estrogen levels can lead to insulin resistance.
  • Appetite Regulation: Estrogen can impact appetite. This happens by interacting with parts of the brain that regulate hunger and fullness. This potential role in appetite regulation may indirectly impact calorie intake and influence weight management.

How Declining Estrogen Impacts Metabolism?

Menopause, a natural transition marked by a significant decline in estrogen production, can lead to several metabolic changes:

  • Decreased Metabolic Rate: Lower estrogen levels can make it harder to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. This can be particularly frustrating for women who haven’t significantly changed their diet or exercise habits.
  • Body Fat Redistribution: When estrogen levels drop, fat can build up in the abdomen. This can raise the risk of health issues such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Additional Factors Affecting Estrogen Levels:

Beyond menopause, other factors can impact estrogen levels and metabolism:

  • PCOS: Polycystic ovary syndrome can cause hormonal imbalances, including high testosterone and low estrogen, potentially leading to weight gain and insulin resistance.
  • Breastfeeding: Estrogen levels remain low postpartum while breastfeeding to promote milk production and prevent ovulation.
  • Ovary Removal: Surgical removal of ovaries leads to sudden menopause and a significant decrease in estrogen production. The doctor may suggest hormone therapy.
  • Extreme Exercise: Excessive exercise can lower estrogen levels through reduced body fat mass, potentially impacting metabolism.
  • Eating Disorders: Eating disorders like anorexia can cause significant calorie restriction, leading to decreased estrogen production and metabolic disruptions.

Managing Weight Gain:

Weight gain during menopause is normal because of hormones, but a healthy lifestyle can help control it.

  • Diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential nutrients and promotes healthy metabolism.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps build muscle mass and increases metabolic rate, making it easier to burn calories.


Estrogen plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism. Understanding how estrogen levels impact metabolism can assist women in making healthier lifestyle choices and managing weight more efficiently. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

Dr Laura Bloom

Dr. Laura L. Bloom, NMD

Dr. Laura Bloom, NMD is a dedicated Physician licensed by the State of Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board. With profound expertise in dietary and nutrition supplementation… Read More

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