Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that are very significant for women. These hormones are mostly associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause, and may mood, food cravings, weight, and libido. While some women may not experience any uncomfortable feeling, others may be living with the effects of hormonal changes.
In general, some women may be so affected by hormone fluctuations that it gets to the point of feeling overwhelmed. Practically any negative feeling or emotion may be the result of a hormonal spin, such as anxiety, depression, exercise or stress. In other words, there are a lot of ways that a woman’s overall health condition may be affected.
A Woman’s Reproductive Years
Talking about female reproductive years may be focused on pregnancy, but it actually starts during PMS, which is associated with a number of symptoms. PMSinvolves a group of symptoms – such as cramps, headache, bloating, diarrhea and breast tenderness – all of which occur before the menstruation. This makes some women feel distressed during this period. Painful menstruation is called dysmenorrhea.
Benefits of Estrogen to Women
Estrogen is the primary hormone of females that is very vital for reproductive purposes and fertility. It is important in regulating a normal menstrual cycle as well as preparing the uterus for pregnancy by developing the endometrium.
Women who suffer from infertility may be given estrogen to increase the production of the luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone to enable the ovary to release a mature egg on time.
Estrogen brings positive effects on a woman’s health apart from it being important to her reproductive system. A study has shown that estrogen has the ability to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a kind of cholesterol that leads excess cholesterol to the liver. The latter reduces the risk of blockage in the artery, as well as sudden decrease in blood flow.
Similarly, it can also decrease the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or also known as bad cholesterol. In this aspect, estrogen eliminates the medical complications that LDL causes to an individual, such as a heart attack or stroke due to an elevated risk of developing a heart disease.
Additionally, estrogen can improve mental performance. Activating the estrogen receptors enables one cell to receive and convey information to the other. This promotes the flow of information in the brain. The brain can be able to function more efficiently and allow one to be more focused when having to deal with difficult decisions.
Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Imbalance
There are three types of estrogens produced in our body: estriol, estrone, and estradiol. Any increase or decrease in the levels of estriol, estrone or estradiol may lead to severe consequences.
Common signs and symptoms of low estrogen levels are:
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
- Hot flashes
- Increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to a thinning of the urethra
- Irregular or absent periods
- Mood swings
- Painful sex due to a lack of vaginal lubrication
- Trouble concentrating
Causes of Low Estrogen
Estrogen is produced in the ovaries. Any health issues that affect the ovaries will also affect the production of estrogen.
Women who experience a low level of estrogen may be caused by:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia
- Excessive exercise
- Low-functioning pituitary gland
- Premature ovarian failure, which can result from genetic defects, toxins, or an autoimmune condition
- Turner syndrome
Women over 40 years old may experience low estrogen level. This stage is called perimenopausal stage. Once estrogen production ceases, the woman has already reached menopause.
Risk Factors for Low Estrogen Level
The risk factors for having low estrogen level include:
- Age, since your ovaries produce less estrogen over time
- Eating disorders
- Excessive exercising
- Extreme dieting
- Family history of hormonal issues, such as ovarian cysts
- Issues with your pituitary gland
Females who have family members with a similar condition must consult with their OB-GYN to ensure that they can be given proper treatment to avoid the health consequences.
Importance of Estriol
Estriol is produced in large amounts during pregnancy, and may be measured in a pregnant woman’s blood or urine. It is used as a hallmark of the baby’s health condition.
A level of estriol that is extremely low in pregnant females may indicate chromosomal or congenital defects such as Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21). However, low level of estriol in non-pregnant women is normal.
Estriol has many positive effects that are linked with other main estrogens in alleviating painful symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness. Furthermore, Estriol is beneficial for the health of bones, heart and urinary tract during the postmenopausal stage. The hormone offers a whole lot of health benefits without any of the unfavorable effects associated with high potency estrogens.
Signs and Symptoms of Estriol Imbalance
Signs of estriol imbalance may differ from every woman and will also be dependent on the mental, physical and pathological health of the individual. Some of the most common symptoms of estriol imbalance are:
- Down syndrome
- Edward’s syndrome
- Heart-related diseases
- Irregular periods
- Loss of bone density
- Postmenstrual ill health
- Vaginal dryness
There is also a possibility for bones to weaken when estrogen levels are low. Therefore, keeping a normal level of estrogen can keep the bones strong, most especially on aged women.
How To Improve Estriol Imbalance
Women in their 40s to 50s may experience several symptoms of estriol imbalance. A low level of estriol during pregnancy may lead to health issues for both mother and the baby.
It is, therefore, recommended to make the following changes to improve estriol levels:
- •Balanced and nutritious food
- •Eating healthy
- •Ensuring you get at least 8 hours of sound sleep at night
- •Having a positive perspective
- •Increasing metabolism
- •Keeping your health in check
- •Taking on less stress
How Is Low Estrogen Diagnosed?
It is essential to consider having a hormone imbalance test to ensure that your estriol level is within the normal range. Find the kind of test that can help you determine the levels of various hormones in a single test, since this can be more convenient and less expensive.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms stated above, immediately consult your doctor. A comprehensive family and medical history will be taken. During your appointment, the physician will perform a physical exam and will need to take blood samples for testing.
How is Low Estrogen Treated?
Women between the ages of 25-50 with low estrogen levels may benefit from a high dose of estrogen. This reduces their risk of having cardiovascular disease and bone loss. The dose will depend on the severity of the condition and the method of application. Estrogen can be given orally, topically, via injection and vaginally (vaginal suppositories).
Although estrogen hormone treatment can help increase hormone production, it also has some health risks, which include the following:
- Increase in the risk of developing arteriosclerotic disease: The effect of estrogen on women may be affected by diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypothyroidism. These may cause unfavorable symptoms such as severe headache, dizziness, nausea, and chest pains. When estrogen is taken in conjunction with other medications, it can increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stoke.
- Higher risk of developing cancer: Researchers have discovered that women who are taking estrogen hormone treatment and has previously undergone hysterectomy have a high risk of developing breast cancer and endometrial cancer. Therefore, estrogen is given at low doses (as low as 1 mg) to prevent the possibility of developing breast cancer. It is advisable to undergo regular mammogram to ensure that there is no growth in the breast tissue. If there are any, the mammogram can help doctors to know how to manage the situation properly.
- Infertility in women during child-bearing years: Long-term use of estrogen hormone may disrupt the normal production of estrogen, which may result to the woman’s incapacity to bear a child.
Other possible negative effects of estrogen hormone treatment include:
- Change in sexual desires
- Difficulty in breathing and swallowing that is associated with hoarseness of voice
- Flu-like symptoms or infections such colds, coughs, and fever
- Gradual rise of dementia-related symptoms
- Hair loss, joint pains, and loss of appetite
- Increase risk of gallstone
- Unusual muscle movements that are difficult to control such that of Parkinson’s disease
- Yellowing of skin and eyes
High Estrogen Level
It is also likely that estrogen will shoot up. When this happens, it will result to:
- Bloating (water retention)
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
- Decreased sex drive
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Foggy thinking, memory loss
- Hair loss
- Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
- Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
- Sluggish metabolism
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
- Weight and/or fat gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
Causes of High Estrogen Level
Estrogen level is at its peak during the first two weeks before ovulation, and then balanced by progesterone in the last two weeks of a woman’s cycle. Going through perimenopause may cause an unbalanced estrogen hormone since the progesterone may not be producing enough.
Other causes include:
- Environmental agents
- Excess body fat (> 28%)
- Impaired immune function
- Low-fiber diet with excess refined carbohydrates and deficient in nutrients and high-quality fats
- Too much stress, resulting in excess amounts of cortisol, insulin, and norepinephrine, which can lead to adrenal exhaustion and can also adversely affect overall hormonal balance
Tips To Decrease Estrogen Level
Here are some ways in which you can decrease estrogen level:
- 1.Always follow a proper diet by increasing the nutrients in your daily intake.
- 2.Always include a high-fiber diet. Not having regular bowel movement may cause the estrogen to be reabsorbed.
- 3.Lose excess weight and make exercise part of your daily routine.
- 4.Learn how to deal with stress in a positive way.
- 5.Use bioidentical progesterone cream.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Doctors may advance menopausal women to undergo hormone replacement therapy. During this time, women will be having an imbalance of both estrogen and progesterone level. In doing so, it can alleviate painful symptoms of menopause and reduce the risk of bone loss.
Facts about Women’s Hormones
There are a few things that women should know about their own hormones:
PMS is not a normal occurrence.
Some women regard their menstrual pains as normal, it does not make PMS acceptable. PMS happens when there is an imbalance in the progesterone and estrogen levels in the body of a woman, and so this should be properly addressed.
The fertility of a woman may be extended and improved by taking the right food.
A woman who might be indulging herself most of the time with junk food may not be having the right nourishment to help her conceive. Eating the right kind of food helps in some way in the production of the normal levels of hormones.
Most hormonal deficiencies are caused by micronutrient deficiencies.
There should be an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals in the body all the time. To starve yourself just to lose weight can do more harm than good.
A healthy lifestyle is a great contributor in maintaining the normal levels of hormones in the body.
Taking regular exercise allows the body to become stronger and healthier. However, the type of exercise that you need to do may depend on hormonal patterns. This means that if you do more strenuous exercise for one week, the following week should not be as strenuous since the woman’s metabolism may vary within her 28-day cycle.
With consistent effort in improving and achieving a healthy lifestyle, better stress management, and constant physical activity, having to deal with health issues may become just a thing in the past. The same goes with estrogen hormone imbalance.