Estrogen is the female sex hormone manufactured by the ovaries, fat cells and adrenal glands. The hormone plays a vital role in body function throughout the life of women. In addition to being necessary for reproduction processes, estrogen is also needed for healthy bones and heart function. Imbalances lead to various biological problems. During female adolescence, estrogen assumes many different roles.
Before puberty, the ovaries remain dormant and primarily serve as a warehouse for eggs. When puberty begins, the pituitary gland signals the ovaries to initiate estrogen and progesterone production. Sometime between the ages of nine and 11, estrogen levels rise and breast tissue develops and continues growing for approximately four years. Initially, one breast might grow faster than the other. However, eventually the size and shape in both breasts equalize. Girls develop curves as body fat increases over the hip region. Hair grows longer, darker and more coarse under the arms, in the pubic region and on the legs. Menses begins approximately 24 to 30 months after breast tissue begins growing. Estrogen is also responsible for the dramatic height increase that girls typically experience.
Hormones and Mood
The fluctuating estrogen and other sex hormone levels commonly cause mood changes in teen girls. Girls might be reduced to tears faster than before puberty. They might also become angrier easier. As puberty progresses, estrogen and other hormones trigger the sex drive in adolescent girls. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, girls find boys interesting and appealing. Some girls may feel that the changes are strange or abnormal. However, these new feelings and thoughts are a normal part of the maturation process. Mothers, older sisters or other adult women have all gone through the same process and serve as a great source of comfort and information when girls become fearful during this confusing time.
If estrogen levels are too low during puberty growth and development, women have an increased risk of developing postmenopausal osteoporosis. Teen girls who become anorexic or bulimic severely hamper growth processes. The sustained malnutrition seriously depletes estrogen levels and causes poor bone development and eventual heart disease.
Dangers for Adolescent Female Athletes
Teen athletes are also at a possible health risk. Young girls need to keep up with nutritional needs, or they suffer from menstrual irregularities and early onset osteoporosis. During puberty, girls often have a poor image of their bodies and perceive development and the redistribution of weight as getting fat. Coaches, parents and fellow athletes may support their distorted views and encourage girls to diet while they also engage in extreme training. Estrogen levels decline, which contributes to menstrual disruptions and a greater likelihood of suffering from bone fractures. Adults must be aware of the possible dangers that young female athletes face and ensure that the girls continue healthy eating habits.