How Low Estrogen Affects Women
Ask any of our experts what women should know about having low estrogen, and its pretty likely that youll get the same answer across the board: you should be well-aware of the symptoms of low estrogen so that you can nip the issue in the bud as soon as possible.
So, what happens when estrogen levels are low? Well, even a minor imbalance has the potential to throw off just about everything. Every woman will experience varying symptoms, but the most common signs of low estrogen levels are:
- Lack of energy
- Increase in urinary tract infections
- Brain fog
- Dry, thin skin and limp hair
If you have even one of the symptoms above, low estrogen treatment may be a life-changing option to consider.
Stage : Luteal Phase = Lower Estrogen
In the second part of the cycle, the luteal phase, whenthe follicle has ruptured and the egg has been releasedâovulation has occurred. In the place where the follicle was, a new hormone producing structure forms from the walls of the follicle and is called the corpus luteum. The main function of the corpus luteum is to produce lots of progesterone, another sex hormone, but also some estradiol too .
If an egg is not fertilized and implanted, about four days before the start of the period, the corpus luteum stops producing progesterone and estradiol, and the levels of both hormones in the blood fall again. This triggers your period to start .
How Do I Manage Symptoms Of Postmenopause On My Own
Certain lifestyle or at-home changes can help you manage symptoms of postmenopause. Some of these include:
- Using a water-based vaginal lubricant during sex to make it more pleasurable. Lubricating the vagina helps with dryness and pain.
- Regular exercise, meditation and other relaxing activities can help with depression and other side effects of postmenopause.
- Eating a diet rich in phytoestrogens such as whole-grain cereals, flaxseed, chickpeas and legumes. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake has also been shown to help.
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What Does Estrogen Do
Estrogen plays a key role in many functions throughout the body and helps develop and maintain both the reproductive system and sex characteristics like body hair and breasts. During puberty, it is responsible for female sexual development and triggers the growth of breasts, pubic hair, and other sex characteristics.
Estrogens key role is in enabling the functionality of sexual organs. In the ovaries it helps stimulate the growth of the egg follicle, while in the vagina it maintains the thickness of the vaginal wall and has a role in lubrication. Its also responsible for building up the lining of your uterus each month and helps regulate the flow and thickness of uterine mucus secretions. Additionally, estrogen is responsible for the formation of breast tissue and stopping the flow of milk after weaning.
Estrogen plays an important role in your reproductive health as it controls the growth of the uterine lining at the beginning of your menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. In addition, while estrogen powers the menstrual cycle, it is also crucial for your overall health. Estrogen regulates your bone and cholesterol metabolism, as well as your body weight, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity to name a few.
Sex Is Suddenly Painful
Low estrogen can also make sex itself feel more painful . Dr. Eyvazzadeh points to vaginal dryness as a symptom of low estrogen from menopause: if you don’t have enough estrogen, your vagina can dry out, and having sex without enough lubrication can be seriously painful. Dr. Minkin also notes that for some people, being on a low-estrogen form of birth control can increase vaginal dryness: “The amount of moisture in your vagina is sort of dependent on the amount of estrogen in the pills, and … one of the side effects could be vaginal dryness.”
A lack of estrogen also can thin your vaginal walls, another thing that contributes to pain during penetration. Dr. Minkin suggests a vaginal moisturizer like Replens if vaginal dryness is an issue for you.
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What Are Low Estrogen Symptoms
First, letâs talk about causes. Women may have lower levels of estrogen when theyâre postmenopausal, after an oophorectomy , or when they have a lower body-fat percentage.
If you have lower levels of estrogen, you might experience:
- Infrequent or disrupted periods
- Hot flashes and/or night sweats
- Sleeping issues
- Anxiety or depression
How do normal estrogen levels change with age?
During the reproductive years, estrogen levels naturally fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle â theyâre highest toward the middle and lowest during your period.
At the onset of menopause, when periods come to a complete stop, estrogen levels drop.
Can you test your estrogen levels?
Yep â and Modern Fertility makes it easy to check in with your hormone levels at home. Depending on your birth control, you can test up to eight hormones, including E2 , and get customized, physician-reviewed reports based on your results.
Hereâs what else youâll get:
- A free 1:1 consult with our fertility nurse
- Online tools to track hormone changes over time and help you plan your timeline for kids
- Access to our weekly live Q& As
- An invite to the Modern Community to connect with others and get your questions answered
Estrogen And Progesterone: Understanding The Role Of Each When Ttc
Two of the most important hormones for women are estrogen and progesterone, but there can be a lot of confusion surrounding these two hormone powerhouses. We often refer to hormones as a group because they work together and their balance is essential to good health. However, when it comes to estrogen and progesterone, it can be helpful to look at them individually.
In this post well cover what estrogen and progesterone do, where theyre produced, and how their levels impact your health.
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How Is Progesterone Produced
Secreted by the corpus luteum, progesterone is also mainly produced in the ovaries. The corpus luteum, a temporary gland formed in the ovary after ovulation, is made from a follicle that housed a maturing egg and forms as soon as the egg pops out.
A small amount of progesterone is produced by the adrenal glands that sit atop the kidneys, and once pregnant, production takes place in the placenta.
Osteoporosis And Low Estrogen
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that makes bones thinner, weaker, and more susceptible to fractures. Estrogen helps prevent bone loss by keeping osteoclasts – bone-absorbing cells – at a controlled amount while improving the body’s absorption and retention of calcium.
If bone degrades quicker than it is produced due to an estrogen deficiency, a woman’s chances of developing osteoporosis at some point during the menopausal transition increase.
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Low Estrogen In Women: Signs And Symptoms
There are a number of low estrogen symptoms that a woman can experience. Women approaching menopause are most likely to experience low levels of the hormone, but women at all different stages of life can develop low estrogen levels.
Here are some typical symptoms of low estrogen:
- Irregular or absent menstruation
Some women also find that their bones break more easily. This is because estrogen workswith calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones strong. When you have low estrogen levels, there is a potential for decreased bone density.
What Foods Cause High Levels Of Estrogen In Women
Get a broad picture of your hormonal health with our range of at-home female hormone tests. What foods cause high estrogen? Foods that reportedly increase estrogen include flax seeds, soybean products, chocolate, fruit, nuts, chickpeas, and legumes.
B vitamins play an important role in the creation and activation of estrogen in the body. Low levels of these vitamins can lead to reduced levels of estrogen.
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Diagnosis And Treatment For Low Estrogen
Early diagnosis of low estrogen can help prevent complications later on, so if you think you might be experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of low estrogen then you need to see a doctor. During an assessment, your doctor will go over your family history and your symptoms as well as conduct a physical exam. It is common for blood tests to be ordered to measure hormone levels. If you are having night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, or missed periods, the doctor will want to assess your estrone and estradiol levels. In some situations, a brain scan will be conducted to check for possible abnormalities that could be impacting the endocrine system.
Low estrogen treatment varies, and it could involve hormone replacement therapy . Estrogen can be administered orally, topically or vaginally in women ages 25 to 50 who are experiencing low estrogen. The method and dosage depend on the severity of the condition. This treatment is not without controversy, as there has been some research that indicates it may increase the risk of heart problems, stroke, and cancer.
Low estrogen is considered below 100pg/ml . The good news is that there are also home remedies in addition to medical treatments that often help bring the symptoms under control.
How Ovulation Might Feel
Ovulation is generally regular without any extra symptoms aside from changes in vaginal secretion. Cervical mucus increases in quantity and becomes clear and stretchy, like egg whites, during this phase.
Different types of vaginal discharge occur throughout the cycle, so discharge that slightly changes color and consistency may be normal. During ovulation, there may be mild soreness on the side of the body where the ovary is releasing an egg. This is called mittelschmerz and can last from a few minutes to one to two days. Mittelschmerz is completely normal, and its also normal not to experience it.
However, if theres a sharp pain in the belly during ovulation or an excessive amount of discharge, its possible that there are underlying health issues that need medical treatment.
After ovulation, LH and estrogen levels drop. The dominant follicle transforms into the corpus luteum, which is a sort of temporary organ that predominantly secretes progesterone to prepare the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg.
This phase lasts for 14 days for most people.
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What Happens To Hormone Levels During The Menstrual Cycle
For each cycle, the body works around the clock to prepare for a potential pregnancy. This means the brain and ovaries are constantly interacting to create hormone level changes over the course of each menstrual cycle. In this article, well see which hormones dominate in different cycle phases and how they influence mental and physical fitness.
When To See A Doctor
If you notice signs and symptoms of low estrogen, you should contact your doctor to discuss whats happening. You can discuss with your doctor if there are blood tests recommended to check your overall health. Make sure you are up to date on your Pap smear test, which checks for cervical cancer.
- Youve missed a period or more: This could be a sign of pregnancy or the result of certain medications, an underlying illness, or perimenopause.
- Youve not had a period for a year and start bleeding or spotting: In women who have gone through menopause, spotting or light bleeding could be caused by endometrial cancer or other serious health problems.
- You are 16 or older and have not started menstruating: This could be a sign of delayed puberty due to hormonal imbalance.
- You think you may have an eating disorder: Eating disorders can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. They can cause deficiencies that can compromise estrogen production.
- You are feeling overwhelming sadness or having suicidal thoughts: Reach out to a mental health professional to get the help and support you deserve, and talk to your doctor about possible treatment options.
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Youre Getting Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Youâve probably heard of these symptoms through menopause. These really annoying symptoms occur during perimenopause , but they can also occur at other times when your estrogen is low. People can start having perimenopausal symptoms in their late 30s, Dr. Minkin says, so its not something to rule out.
Hot flashes and night sweats happen because low estrogen messes with your hypothalamus, the part of your brain that controls your body temperature, among other things. When you donât have enough estrogen, your body is tricked by this part of your brain to think itâs too hot. In an attempt to get rid of the fake excess heat, your body expends heat in a hot flash â opening the blood vessels in your head and neck skin more than usual. These may be another reason why youâre having trouble sleeping â because itâs hard to sleep when your body is on a temperature rollercoaster.
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Major Health Risks Of Low Estrogen
Osteoporosis. Estrogen helps maintain strong bones by preventing calcium loss. Too little calcium can increase the risk of fractures in the spine, hips, and leg and arm bones. Women who drink a lot of alcohol, who smoke, who are not active, and who are thin or petite are at greater risk. A family history of osteoporosis may also increase risk.
Heart disease. Estrogen made by the body seems to protect against heart disease. It may do this by raising the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood. After menopause, the risk for heart disease rises sharply. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to protect your heart health.
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How Long Does Perimenopause Last
The length of each stage of the menopause transition can vary for each individual. The average length of perimenopause is about four years. Some women may only be in this stage for a few months, while others will be in this transition phase for more than four years. If you have gone more than 12 months without having a period, you are no longer perimenopausal. However, if there are medications or medical conditions that may affect periods, it can be more difficult to know the specific stage of the menopause transition.
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What Medications Are Used To Treat Postmenopausal Symptoms
Hormone therapy could be an option, although healthcare providers often recommend using it for a short amount of time and in people under the age of 60. There are health risks associated with hormone therapy like blood clots and stroke. Some healthcare providers do not recommend using hormone therapy after menopause has ended or if you have certain medical conditions.
Some medications your healthcare provider may consider helping with postmenopausal symptoms are:
- Antidepressants for mood swings or depression.
- Vaginal creams for pain related to sexual intercourse and vaginal dryness.
- Gabapentin to relieve hot flashes.
Oftentimes your provider will recommend lifestyle changes to help manage your symptoms.
During The Follicular Phase Of The Cyclefrom The Start Of Your Period Until Ovulationestrogen Levels Are High You May Notice Some Changes Throughout Your Body
Your cervical fluid changes throughout the follicular phase:
Early-to mid follicular: dry/sticky
Late follicular to ovulation: wet and slippery, like an egg white
Some people notice an increase in their sex drive around ovulation
Estrogen Levels During Puberty
Usually starting between 8 and 13 in people with ovaries , a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus begins to produce the hormone GnRH, stimulating the ovaries and an increase in estrogen, which eventually results in a first period .
Breast buds a small amount of firm, tender breast tissue just under the nipple are often the first sign of puberty. This process is launched by estrogen, which sparks the fat in connective tissue to connect and bind, causing breast enlargement and the development of breast ducts. Estrogen is also involved in the growth of pubic and underarm hair, and like we mentioned above, the start of the menstrual cycle.
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What Causes Low Estrogen In Women
The cause of low estrogen can vary, and there are many different factors and medical conditions that can affect your hormones. The ovaries are responsible for estrogens primary production, so anything that changes ovary function can impact estrogen levels.
Easily the most common cause of estrogen imbalance is approaching menopause. Known as perimenopause, this stage of life usually shows up around your fortieth birthday. Its normal, but the symptoms that come with it can be treated with hormone therapy .
For younger women that are facing decreased levels of estrogen, theres typically a medical reason behind it, such as:
- Premature ovarian failure
- Excessive exercise or extreme dieting
- A family history of hormonal issues, including ovarian cysts
What Causes Low Estrogen
It’s important to remember that all women will eventually suffer from low estrogen as they go through menopause.
In addition, all women will notice a slow and steady decline in estrogen as they age and this is also unavoidable.
These important factors cannot be changed and will always be playing some role in your estrogen level.
In most cases, women suffering from low estrogen tend to be older but that doesn’t mean that young women can’t experience low estrogen.
Low estrogen in young women is usually the result of some other pathological condition such as excessive exercise, severe dieting, pituitary problems and so on.
If you are a young woman it is NEVER normal for you to experience low estrogen.
You can find a list of potential causes of low estrogen below:
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