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Estrogens are a group of hormones that are synthesized mainly by the ovaries, a small amount is synthesized by the testes in males and by the adrenal cortex in both sexes. The placenta produces a fairly large amount of estrogen as well.
The three main endogenous estrogens are estradiol, estriol and estrone. Estrogens control female sexual development, the growth and function of female sexual organs and other secondary characteristics such as breast development. Excessive production of estrogen in men causes feminization.
Natural and synthetic estrogens are used to treat amenorrhea and menopausal symptoms. They can inhibit lactation and are also used in treatment of androgen-dependent cancers such as prostate cancer. Estrogens are given in any condition with estrogen deficiency.
Estrogens are used as contraceptives, in combination with progestins (another class of sex hormones).
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