the molecular structures of the hormone estrogen, with a happy face on one and an angry face on the other with a text bubble saying what makes estrogen good or bad?

This article will demonstrate the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ estrogens. To review the basics of estrogen metabolism please click here.

Basic Review of Estrogen Metabolism

In another article, I discussed how 2-OH-Estrogens are considered good, 4-OH-estrogens are considered bad, and 16-OH-estrogens are considered ugly.

This article will discuss the factors which make a hormone good or bad.

diagram explaining estrogen hormone metabolism showing the different forms of estrone, the good and the bad ones.
diagram explaining estrogen hormone metabolism showing the different metabolites of estradiol, including the good and bad ones

The Basic Function of Estrogen

Estrogen doesn’t just do one thing: its indispensable to glucose metabolism, immune robustness, bone health, cardiovascular health, fertility and brain function [1]. It’s at the center of almost all human pathologies including infectious, autoimmune, metabolic and degenerative diseases [1]. As you can see, good health, and disease, rely on estrogen.

It’s important to realize all the good or bad is related to estrogen metabolism.

Basically: estrogen stimulates various cells to do things. The most common example is estrogen’s role in tissue growth.

The video below depicts the role estrogen has on tissue growth. Certain tissues in a woman’s (or man’s) body are more sensitive to estrogen. When a girl hits puberty, certain tissues grow in the presence of a sudden increase in estrogen. A woman experiencing a menstrual cycle will experience certain growths as a result of estrogen building for the first half of her cycle.

Good vs Bad Estrogen

As indicated above:

  • 2-hydroxy-estrogens are good [1] [2] [3]
  • 4-hydroxy-estrogens and 16-hydroxy-estrogens are bad [1] [4]

A Good Hormone:

  1. Reduced stimulatory effect (less growth)
  2. Has a lower binding affinity (weak, appropriate binding)
  3. High rate of clearance (leaves our body easier and sooner)

A Bad Hormone:

  1. Increased stimulatory effect (more growth)
  2. Has a high binding affinity
  3. Low rate of clearance (stays in circulation longer)

The videos below will explain these concepts in more detail.

How This Relates to Everyday Health

The metabolism of estrogen is crucial to health. As mentioned above, estrogen has roles to play in health as well as disease. From menstrual cramps, to headaches, to cancers, to autoimmune disease and pelvic floor dysfunction, estrogen always has a role to play. Discuss with your naturopath if testing and treating estrogen metabolism may be helpful for you.


Estrogen can be metabolized to either good or bad forms. The good estrogen has a weak stimulatory effect, which demonstrates more regulation and control. It also clears from the body relatively quickly.

Bad estrogen on the other hand, has a very strong stimulating effect, has a strong binding ability and takes a long time to finally clear out of the body.


Interested in learning more?

Read on in our series of articles on Hormone Health!

About the Author - Dr. Johann de Chickera

man facing camera

Dr. Johann is a fully licensed Naturopathic Doctor. His approach emphasizes the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and improving one’s health naturally. Dr. Johann obtained a Doctor of Naturopathy at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). Education at CCNM is a vigorous four years, with a curriculum involving biomedical sciences, physical diagnosis, clinical nutrition, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicine, physical medicine, homeopathy and lifestyle management.

While Dr. Johann has a general practice, he focuses on fertility, hormonal imbalances, gut health, and autoimmune disease.

To book in please call us at (519) 442-2206 or click here.

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