Estrogen is a hormone made in the ovaries that plays a crucial role in the development of female sexual characteristics. It has a significant impact on the female reproductive system. As you grow older, it’s normal for estrogen levels to decrease. However, certain factors like chronic illnesses or too much exercise can also lead to low estrogen.
When estrogen levels are low, you might experience symptoms such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and missed menstrual periods. Read on to explore the reasons and signs of low estrogen, as well as how doctors diagnose and treat this condition.
The basics of estrogen levels
While we typically link estrogen with the female body, it’s important to note that men also produce estrogen, albeit in smaller amounts. The hormone estrogen is responsible for:
- Guiding the sexual development of girls during puberty.
- Participating in the formation of follicles/eggs and the process of ovulation.
- Helping control the growth of the uterine lining throughout the menstrual cycle and at the start of a pregnancy.
- Contributing to breast changes in teenagers and pregnant women.
- Influencing bone and cholesterol metabolism.
- Regulating food intake, body weight, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.
What causes low estrogen?
It’s natural that as you age, so do your estrogen levels. However, low estrogen levels that are unrelated to age may signal problems with your hormones. Certain women may encounter an estrogen imbalance caused by factors affecting the production of hormones in their bodies. Prior to entering menopause, indications of low estrogen could arise from:
- Premature menopause
- Genetic conditions
- Autoimmune disease
- Eating disorders
- Cancer treatments
- Hypothalamic amenorrhea
- Conditions with pituitary glands
- Oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries)
Common signs of low estrogen in women
Being attuned to signs of low estrogen is important for maintaining overall well-being. Let’s delve deeper into key indicators that may signal a decrease in estrogen levels:
1. Irregular menstrual cycles
Low estrogen levels can result in irregular or missed menstrual periods. If you notice significant changes in the timing or flow of your menstrual cycle, it might be an indication of fluctuating estrogen levels. Keeping track of these variations can provide valuable insights into your hormonal health.
2. Hot flashes and night sweats
Variations in estrogen levels frequently give rise to episodes of hot flashes and night sweats. These abrupt surges of heat, coupled with sweating, can significantly disrupt daily activities and compromise the quality of sleep. If you find yourself frequently grappling with these symptoms, it’s recommended to investigate a potential link with estrogen-related issues.
3. Mood swings and irritability
Estrogen influences neurotransmitters in the brain, and low levels may contribute to mood swings and heightened irritability. Feeling more emotionally sensitive than usual could be an indicator of hormonal imbalance.
4. Trouble sleeping
Changes in hormone levels, including low estrogen, can disturb your usual sleep patterns. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or often wake up during the night, it’s worth thinking about how estrogen affects sleep. Taking steps to manage these disruptions can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health.
5. Vaginal dryness
A decrease in estrogen levels can result in the contraction of your vaginal tissues, known as vaginal atrophy, eventually causing ongoing vaginal dryness and itching. Additionally, experiencing pain during intercourse is a frequent consequence of low estrogen, as the hormone contributes to the natural lubrication of your vagina.
When the ovaries encounter difficulties in producing sufficient estrogen, the entire body is impacted, resulting in feelings of fatigue and difficulties in achieving restful sleep. Moreover, the body’s estrogen production is interconnected with its melatonin production, a hormone crucial for initiating and maintaining sleep. The interplay of these factors suggests that fatigue could be among the most impactful indicators of reduced estrogen production, affecting various aspects of daily life.
Other signs of low estrogen levels include:
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches/Worsening migraines
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain
- Osteoporosis, which is the weakening of bones that can lead to fractures
- Impaired sexual development and sexual function
How do you test for low estrogen?
You can assess your estrogen levels with a urine, saliva, or, in the case of 10X Health, a blood test. It’s crucial to inform your doctor about all medications and supplements you’re taking before the test. This is especially important if you are on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, as these can influence the test results.
Treating low estrogen levels in women
Treating low estrogen is possible. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on your specific situation. Here are some ways people have found relief:
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to hormonal balance. Regular exercise, a balanced diet rich in nutrients, and maintaining a healthy weight can positively impact estrogen levels.
Some foods contain natural compounds that may support estrogen production. Incorporating foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soy products, flaxseeds, and whole grains, may be beneficial. Also, being underweight or overweight can affect hormone levels, including estrogen. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise is important.
Does Vitamin D contribute to estrogen regulation?
Studies indicate that insufficient vitamin D levels may result in decreased estrogen levels, potentially giving rise to symptoms like mood swings, headaches, depression, and hot flashes, especially during perimenopause and menopause. Elevating vitamin D levels plays a role in restoring low estrogen levels.
Chronic stress can impact hormonal balance. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises may help manage stress levels and support hormonal health.
Your healthcare provider may recommend certain supplements to support hormonal balance. However, it’s vital to discuss this with your doctor before taking any supplements, as they can interact with medications or have side effects.
Avoiding harmful substances
Limiting alcohol intake and avoiding smoking can positively impact hormonal health.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
In many cases, healthcare providers may recommend hormone replacement therapy to supplement estrogen levels. This involves taking estrogen in the form of pills, patches, creams, or other delivery methods. Some benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for women include:
- Improved bone health: Estrogen plays a crucial role in preserving bone health, and HRT can contribute to maintaining strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
- Reduced menopause symptoms: Trademark signs of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep difficulties, can be mitigated by HRT. This therapy helps regulate progesterone and estrogen levels, alleviating many uncomfortable menopausal symptoms.
- Boosted libido: Hormone replacement therapy restores reproductive hormone levels, revitalizing your sex drive and addressing issues like vaginal dryness.
- Enhanced mood: The decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels as you age can lead to mood swings or depression. HRT aids in balancing these hormones, potentially lifting your mood.
Solve low estrogen levels with 10X Health
Understanding the implications of low estrogen levels is crucial for overall well-being, as it can impact various aspects of your body, from mood to bone density and beyond. If you resonate with the symptoms discussed in this blog post, taking the next step toward a better you is within reach.
Don’t let hormonal imbalances like low estrogen ruin your everyday life. Schedule your 10X Health blood test today.