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Estrogens are responsible for maturation and maintenance of the vagina and uterus, and are also involved in ovarian function, such as maturation of ovarian follicles.

The metabolic effects of estrogen in postmenopausal women has been linked to the genetic polymorphism of the ER.

While estrogens are present in both men and women, they are usually present at significantly higher levels in women of reproductive age.

They promote the development of female secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, and are also involved in the thickening of the endometrium and other aspects of regulating the menstrual cycle.

In males, estrogen regulates certain functions of the reproductive system important to the maturation of sperm Estrogens are responsible for the development of female secondary sexual characteristics during puberty, including breast development, widening of the hips, and female fat distribution.

Once inside the cell, they bind to and activate estrogen receptors (ERs) which in turn modulate the expression of many genes.

In addition to their role as natural hormones, estrogens are used as medications, for instance in menopausal hormone therapy and hormonal birth control; for information on estrogens as medications, see the estrogen (medication) article.

The three major naturally occurring forms of estrogen in females are estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).